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Villages should consolidate services with towns, county to bring down high village tax rates

Posted 21 November 2017 at 11:19 am

Editor:

For too long the villages of Orleans County have ignored the need to reinvent themselves. The fact that some villages need $18/$1000 tax rates to balance the books is an indicator that the current boundaries that we use to provide services no longer match up well to the tax base. The high village tax rates have severely depressed property values. It no longer makes economic sense to either build a new home or significantly renovate an existing home inside a village. The cost to do so would exceed what you would recoup when the property is sold.

Homes in the villages have been torn down without being replaced. New construction in the villages is mostly limited to: tax exempt organizations, businesses where a central location is important, and government subsidized projects. Homes are being rented out until falling into disrepair and then abandoned. Villages have no future if this continues.

There is one realistic path forward that leads to thriving villages: consolidation of basic services with that of the towns and county. The villages need to get out of policing, fire protection, water and highway services. These days nearly all of those services are common throughout the county and can be provided more efficiently and fairly through a smaller number of consolidated departments that everyone pays the same tax rate for.

Villages could instead focus on those services that are unique to villages: street lighting, neighborhood parks, brush pickup, sidewalk plowing, and the like. Village tax rates could be more in the neighborhood of $4 per thousand instead of $18 per thousand. Property values would increase inside the villages as more people are willing to move in.

Orleans County is in the same boat as most other rural counties – population is decreasing. We can no longer afford duplication and waste. By making our local governments as efficient as possible we will best position ourselves for whatever the future holds.

Jason Dragon

Village of Albion