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Murray resident questions why town tax rate growth far exceeds tax cap

Posted 18 January 2016 at 12:00 am

Editor:

As our New Year gets underway we in the Town of Murray are presented with yet another town tax rate increase.

I have read on the Town of Murray homepage the justification for this 7.5% increase after last year’s 8.0%. I can debate the Town Board’s justification at length but the area most disturbing to me is item #6:

“Why is the Town of Murray not able to stay within the tax cap?”

Town Board’s response: “In reviewing the Town’s budget situation with over 40 other small communities within the Western New York region, it’s clear that less than 15 communities are able to stay within the State’s Tax Cap for 2016. So this situation is not unique to the Town of Murray.”

I disagree. Let’s be sure to compare our town to other similar towns with the same social/economic demographics. Orleans County is a wonderful area, with unique characteristics unto itself.

We are not the Finger Lakes, Amherst, Pittsford, or Chautauqua. We are the Town of Murray, a rural/agricultural community with open landscapes, fertile fields and a history based in agriculture. To make a balanced comparison on a level playing field may I suggest looking within our county to our surrounding neighbors who share similar circumstances?

Orleans County is made up of 10 towns. Let’s keep it simple and look at general tax data which is available on the Orleans County Web site. Of the 10 Towns for 2016, three lowered their tax rates, one had a 0% change. Five increased their rate by less than 1%. The Town of Murray increased 7.5%, the highest tax rate increase in the County.

In 2015 the general trend was four towns had a 0% increase, two towns increased less than 1%, one town lowered taxes, two towns increased taxes 1.5% and Murray again far outpaced its neighbors with an 8% increase.

The Tax Cap at this point is irrelevant. It is a very complex formula and I doubt any member of the Town Council can actually calculate the outcome without expert advice. The point is that we are far outpacing our neighboring communities with our property taxation. I think it’s high time we look in the mirror and dust ourselves off. Let’s ask ourselves who are we and where we going.

The next election year for the Town of Murray is 2017. In the past three years our town’s tax rate has risen nearly 17%. What have we to show for it?

It’s our money, yours and mine and I think it’s a fair question. In my opinion we need to think about returning to the days of James “Jimmy” Piedimonte. Regardless of politics, Jimmy Piedimonte could stretch a dime into a dollar! He kept our town taxes low. I think he looked in the mirror every day, knew who he was and where he was going.

I’ve been asked to run for Town Council by members of the community because of the tax-and-spend policy of this board. The facts speak for themselves. I am not Jimmy Piedimonte but would like to return to his fiscally conservative spending practices.

I will be running for Town Council in 2017 on the platform of stretching that dime into a dollar. I would like to join the team, bring fresh ideas, energy and openly discuss who we are and where we’re headed.

Most importantly reducing taxes and helping to bring better efficiency to the cost of government. There is no implied expression of corruption or wrong doing by our board. We should appreciate their efforts to serve.

There are some pretty smart folks in the Town of Murray who work hard. I ask you to look in the mirror and see if you too can find the time to help make a difference. The time is now for the people to speak.

I look forward to meeting fellow residents in Murray this year listening to your thoughts and needs. I’m happy to work with everyone for the benefit of our community. Please contact me anytime, I’m happy to help.

Joe Sidonio
Holley