When the property tax bill comes next year, Ulster County residents won't be spared any pain. But under a new law, the government will be required to tell you where it hurts.
The Taxpayer Relief Insert, announced by county officials Tuesday afternoon, contains an itemized receipt of sorts – as opposed to a mere I.O.U.
The information is designed to show a breakdown of the property tax levy, particularly in terms of unfunded mandates such as Safety Net (welfare) costs, pensions, and related issues beyond local control.
Across New York, county governments have been squeezed by unsustainable two percent property tax caps, in an environment of monetary inflation and rising state obligations.
“This puts it in a very straightforward process, that allows people to know where the money's coming from, and where their dollars are being spent, because they have a right to know,” said County Executive Michael Hein. “I cannot tell you how monumental this is,” he said.
“It can sometimes seem so technical, extremely difficult unless you are an expert, to be able to distinguish where you're money's going, in a 500-page document, and where the money came from,” Hein explained.
“In these hard times, it is extremely important that every taxpayer has transparency and clarity as to where their tax dollars go,” agreed Republican County Legislator James Maloney.
“I look forward to all the positive feedback that we're going to receive from the taxpayers finally getting to see in detail where all their money is being spent,” said County Legislator Tracey Bartels, a Democrat.
“This reaches across party lines, it cuts all boundaries, to the heart of what we're supposed to be as a government, delivering essential services, and explaining to the citizens where their money is going,” said Democrat Hein. “We do it in the most efficient way, but we have our obligation to explain how and where it gets spent.”