High village tax rates, partly due to cost of police, pushes out investments, residents
Last week I read the press release from the Albion Police Benevolent Association that harshly criticized Albion Mayor Angel Javier Jr. I’d like to offer some comments.
It seems perfectly reasonable for a new mayor to look into how our tax money is being spent. There are about 1,674 taxable parcels in the Village of Albion with an average assessment of $87,099. That is not a very large tax base. Our village tax rate is higher than that of any other village in the 3 adjacent counties. Indeed, this appears to be the same for every other village in Orleans County.
When this story first arose it was not apparent to me what the proper method is for calculating overtime for an 84-hour bi-weekly schedule. I spent a few days reading up on this topic, but I still don’t know. I would say though that it should not be enough to just trust the word of someone else who says they know, or to just ignore the question and keep paying the higher rate. This whole problem could have been avoided if the people who came up with it would have generated thorough documentation and supplied references to appropriate sources – with enough detail so that any new person to village government could understand.
I looked on the village website for the police contract, but I couldn’t find it. I shouldn’t have to go to www.SeeThroughNY.net to find it. I also could not find the union PowerPoint presentation, the Bonadio Group report, or the settlement. If you want people to be trusting of government and avoid issues like these then everything should be out in the open. The police union press release made a lot of accusations but did not provide references that we could check.
One item that was very unsettling was the accusation that $714,000 was owed to the police. I’d say that that is a sign that the police contract needs to be rewritten at the earliest opportunity. The contract mentions 2 officers on duty at all times, 6:00 shift start times, and officers being ready to work at the start of the shift. That sets a very high staffing level for such a small village and exposes its taxpayers to unnecessary overtime payments. I don’t mind paying a person if they are doing extra work that needs to be done, but I’m not excited about paying extra in taxes due to unnecessary contract rules.
We should remember that villages are a completely optional form of local government. And many villages do not have police forces or other services. We pay the same county tax rate as everyone else in Orleans County, so village residents should have the same access to the Sheriff and other county services. The village police force does not have to operate by itself and be as expensive as it currently is.
Orleans County is run by Republicans at every level of government and has been for some time. I’m at the point where I strongly suspect that many people who run our local governments in Orleans County are in cahoots to keep taxes inside villages high and taxes outside villages low.
Many people have had a job and/or role in village government and at some point move outside the village and not pay village taxes. One example would be our ex-mayor, Eileen Banker. She was a strong supporter of the village having a police department that is second to none with local control and fast response times. It doesn’t look that great to then build a brand-new home in Carlton. I’ll admit that the home is very beautiful, and it has a beautiful view of the lake. But I can’t quite square how she now will be able to make do with a slower response time from the Sheriff.
One other point of note is the $2 million project that was mentioned on Thursday, January 5 on Orleans Hub. That project strengthened 1,500 feet of shoreline and is right across from her new home. Local politicians love to criticize New York State, but they were happy that the state paid 95% of this project’s cost. There was no talk of becoming part of Pennsylvania on the day that project was announced.
It was no surprise that Carlton did not pick up the other 5% – it was the County. So, us taxpayers in the villages help keep lake homes safe from flooding. They seem to get us every time. I don’t expect the county to help pay for any project inside a village any year soon. We can’t even get them to share sales tax fairly.
The villages in Orleans County need to be much more affordable so that people will build beautiful new homes right here.