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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Welcome news on taxes

Long Islanders have a lot to be happy about these days. Not only is this wretched winter coming to an end, but our average proposed school-tax hike is the lowest it has been in more than four decades.

Roslyn’s assistant superintendent for business, Joseph Dragone, said it best: “This is going to be a good year for the taxpayers — there’s no doubt about it.”

For the first time in over 40 years, most proposed tax hikes have dropped below 2 percent. According to Newsday, “Local tax collections known as levies are due to rise an average of 1.83 percent for the 2014-2015 academic year in districts in Nassau and Suffolk counties.”

This is a direct reflection of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2 percent tax cap, passed in June 2011. During his first year in office, Cuomo was determined to pass a comprehensive tax cap that would alleviate the devastating effects rising property taxes are having on our communities.

The tax cap limits the annual growth of local property taxes to approximately 2 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower. The cap can only be waived with the approval of 60 percent of the members of whatever governing organization approves local spending — a town board, a county legislature or residents themselves.

The high cost of living on Long Island has become unbearable for many. According to a recent study, nearly 44 percent of Long Island homeowners pay more for housing than they can afford, one of the highest percentages of any region in the state. When a community is affected by such a high cost of living, it stymies economic growth. As a result, it is harder to attract business, and that increases unemployment rates.

Young adults are fleeing the area at alarming rates, causing a demographic collapse, and it is due to the high cost of living. Where do most of these costs come from? Look no further than school taxes. They currently account for more than 60 percent of all property taxes on Long Island, so a tax cap was a necessity.

That’s why I applaud Cuomo and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos for negotiating and pushing the State Legislature to pass the 2 percent cap. It took a lot of time and effort, but now that hard work is paying off for local taxpayers.

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