February 23, 2016
For Immediate Release
According to a media account of a conference call to Upstate editorial boards by Governor Cuomo, economic development initiatives to aid Upstate New York are under assault by Downstate legislative leadership.
This is why we need to continue to study secession as an option whether it is having Upstate New York become part of Pennsylvania or dividing New York State into Upstate and Downstate.
We're #1 again:
ALBANY — New Yorkers, congratulations: You still pay the highest taxes in the nation.
During the 2012 fiscal year, about 10 percent of all income in the U.S. went toward state and local taxes. In New York, the tax burden was nearly 13 percent, the most of any state.
The findings come from the annual state and local tax burden rankings released on Wednesday by the Tax Foundation, a fiscally conservative group in Washington D.C.
“There’s an ongoing debate over how much is enough when it comes to taxes, but it isn’t always informed by accurate data,” said Tax Foundation economist Nicole Kaeding in a statement.
The state and local tax burden per capita in New York was $6,993, while the income per capita was $55,047. Of the tax burden, $5,588 went toward the state and $1,406 was paid in taxes to other states, the report said.
The national average was $4,420.
There's good news, though: The tax burden has gone down around the country in recent years, including in New York. In 2010, the local and state tax burden in New York was 13 percent.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who took office in 2011, has touted efforts to limit taxes in New York. The state has installed a property tax cap, lowered income tax rates and approved some business tax cuts, he said in his State of the State address last week.
"Reducing taxes is part of our strategy to create jobs, and when you’re creating jobs, you’re creating opportunity and you’re creating hope and you’re creating progress, and it is working here in New York," Cuomo said.
Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi said the report doesn't take into account many recent reforms.
“Governor Cuomo instituted reforms that led to the lowest middle class tax rates in more than 60 years, the lowest manufacturing tax rate since 1917, the lowest corporate tax rate since 1968, a property tax cap, freeze and cut, and — as proposed this year — lower taxes for more than 1 million small businesses," Azzopardi said. "Due to the age of the data in this report, much of this progress is not reflected.”
New York has among the highest property taxes in the nation, with Westchester County paying the most and upstate counties paying the most compared to home values, the group has previously found.
In 2012, the most recent data available, New York's 12.7 percent narrowly outpaced Connecticut at 12.6 percent and New Jersey at 12.2 percent in the amount of income that goes to taxes. The lowest tax burden was in Alaska at 6.5 percent, and South Dakota and Wyoming at 7.1 percent.
New York has ranked first in at least the past three years, the group said, and has a state-local tax burden higher than 10 percent for the past 35 years.
The lowest was in 2000, when 11.6 percent of income went toward state and local taxes. The highest was 13.4 percent in 1977, the first year the data was available through the Tax Foundation report.
Unshackle Upstate, a Rochester-based business group, said the report "underscores just how difficult it is to start and grow a business in the Empire State, particularly upstate.
"New Yorkers are desperate for additional tax relief, mandate reform and state policies that promote private sector investment and job creation," the group continued.
Statement by Upstate New York Towns Association, Inc.
February 22, 2015
This statement is in regard to media reports about towns in the Upstate New York Towns Association (Association) seceding to Pennsylvania.
On December 17, 2014, when it was announced that high volume hydraulic fracturing would be ban in New York State and there would be no casino license in the “true” Southern Tier, a supervisor, whose town is a member of the Association, told a reporter from the Wall Street Journal that we should all secede.
That supervisor discussed the idea of seceding to Pennsylvania with the Association. The Association began comparing taxes in New York with taxes in Pennsylvania and comparing the cost of doing business in New York with the cost of doing business in Pennsylvania. The Association also is studying whether or not decisions made in Albany are disproportionately benefitting Downstate.
The recent media attention to secession appears to have started with the Pocketbook Survey put out by Senate Deputy Majority Coalition Leader Tom Libous. Question 4. In the survey states: “Some Kirkwood & Conklin residents want those towns to secede to Pennsylvania. Would you support that?” Senator Libous told the Huffington Post, “After the recent Casino and Gas Drilling decisions, my office received many emails, phone calls and messages from constituents calling for a Southern Tier secession from New York State.”
The Association will review the results from Senator Libous’ survey and review the Association’s study comparing taxes and the cost of doing business in New York and Pennsylvania as well as look at what was found regarding decisions made in Albany disproportionately benefitting Downstate. With all this information, the Association will decide what action should be taken. Options such as seceding to Pennsylvania, partitioning the state, as well as other options that may come up will be looked at.
Upstate NY Towns Association member-Candor declares state of emergency after fire
February 18, 2015
Candor, NY (WBNG Binghamton) The Town of Candor has declared a state of emergency after an electrical fire at the town's highway facility erupted on Monday.
The fire resulted in the loss of approximately 60 percent of the facility, as well as numerous vehicles, including four 10 wheelers with snowplows, a one-ton truck with a plow and one loader.
The Town said the loss impacts public safety, as it will be difficult to provide plowing, salting and sanding services, as well as general maintenance of roads.
Town Supervisor Bob Riggs says the state of emergency is only to allow the town to make emergency purchases or payments. It suspends the local procurement policy.
The state of emergency went into effect on Feb. 17 and will remain in place for about a month, or until it is canceled by the Town Supervisor or Deputy Town Supervisor.
Upstate NY Towns Association hosts speakers at its January meeting
On Jan. 16 the Upstate New York Towns Association met for its first locally held meeting, located at the Candor Town Hall. The topic of discussion was the possibility of laying fiber optic cables in Tioga County in order to improve cellular communications and high-speed internet access.
Southern Tier Network, a non-profit that is in the process of building a fiber optic backbone in the Southern Tier region, had Executive Director Steve Manning give a presentation on the company’s plans. After already beginning to install fiber optic cables in Schuyler, Chemung, and Steuben counties, Southern Tier Network received a state grant from the Southern Tier Economic Development Council that will allow the project to expand into Tioga and Broome counties.
One of the meeting attendees, Candor Supervisor Bob Riggs, explained: “This non-profit is getting funding from state grants to put these fiber optics in place. They’re not a service provider themselves and normally it would be up to one them, but since this is such a rural area [service providers] never have had the business taste to do that. But, by putting this backbone in it will make it sensible to put high speed in. Having that sort of infrastructure in place makes this area more desirable for business. Otherwise it’s like an internet wasteland in some sense. Some people in our area still have dial-up.”
The Southern Tier Network’s basic business plan mimics a similar plan successfully implemented by another company in Ontario County.
Like Riggs, Windsor town supervisor Carolyn Price emphasized the value of improving the area’s telecommunications access: “It’s important for several reasons, one of which is public safety. We had the director of emergency services from Broome County speaking [at the meeting]. It’s important that first responders have a good way to communicate with each other. If you put fiber optics in … you can get better hook-ups than with the old two-way radios. Another high priority is schools and another is economic development because companies today want that type of technology.”
The Upstate Association of New York Towns, the group that hosted the speakers, is a group that was formed last year to meet needs specific to focus on the needs of upstate New York. Riggs explained, “[The association] is augmenting the bigger statewide association of towns. We think the New York Association of Towns is a good thing but it isn’t focused on our issues as we’d like it to be.”
Because the Association of Towns in the State of New York wasn’t meeting the upstate region’s needs, supervisors from some towns in Broome County got together last summer and formed the Upstate New York Towns Association. Since the first educational meeting last July, towns in Sullivan, Delaware, Chenango, Broome, and Tioga counties have joined the burgeoning group. In the immediate area, the towns of Spencer and Candor are the only members of the association as of now.
Price spoke about the impetus for creating the group: “What’s behind it is that upstate has different needs than downstate – broadband is an excellent example. Seventeen percent of people here don’t have broadband access. Downstate that number is only three percent.”
“Our population upstate keeps dropping and the downstate population keeps growing. So when you have an area that’s losing population, having difficulty attracting business, losing jobs, having people move away, and not having the access to technology, we felt that we needed a group that was going to concentrate on these issues and was going to work to improve them.”
In addition to improving broadband access, Price spoke about the association’s other plans for the future: “We have three-point plan and one of the points is to promote greater access to technology and another is to promote economic development. We hope that it will turn around the loss of population. The third point is that we want to promote an understanding of what freedom means in upstate. One example turns again to finances. There’s a lot people in upstate who don’t have economic freedom. The average selling price for a home in in Broome County is around 100,000 [dollars] and downstate in Westchester County it’s around 1 million [dollars]. That’s a big difference in economic freedom.”
The association hopes, though, that the expansion of broadband access and the improvement of telecommunications services throughout the upstate area will help mitigate this vast economic difference. At the very least, residents of Candor, Spencer, and other rural towns may at least be able to enjoy making it through a cell phone call without being disconnected.
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