Village endures tax hike razzle-dazzle

An epidemic of severe sticker-shock recently swept through the local population after taxpayers eyeballed their 2011 town and village tax bills.

On the other hand, their county tax bills seemed somewhat lower than last year.

What gives?

Here's a better question: Who's fooling who?

It can all be traced to Onondaga County's 2010 decision to withhold sales-tax revenues from the towns and villages. "Due to Onondaga County taking half of the village sales tax money," said Liverpool Mayor Gary White, "our budget is short on revenues by $285,000."

The village trustees had no choice but to raise taxes this year by a whopping 22 percent. It was the first time in 14 years that village taxes have risen.

Last year, village and town officials did everything they could to convince the County Legislature of their need. "We ended up flat begging them," White said. But it was all to no avail.

Instead the Legislature passed a revamped sale-tax plan proposed by County Executive Joanie Mahoney which benefited the city of Syracuse while hurting towns and villages.

The razzle-dazzle maneuver managed to lower county property taxes slightly while forcing localities to hike its levies. The long-term purpose, White's convinced, is to strong-arm towns and villages into consolidating services with-who else?-Onondaga County.

"I was extremely discouraged and disturbed by the actions of our county legislators," White said. "Their actions were very disingenuous."

Village Trustee Dennis Hebert, a professional financial analyst, predicted that when election time rolls around this fall, "Those legislators will tell you they worked hard to get you a tax decrease of $1.32 [per $1,000 assessed value], but they won't tell you what they took away."

Who's fooling who? Think about it.

Reading Railroad

When it comes to model railroads, Kevin Besser and Bill Long know how to lay the track and power the engines. Kevin operates Besser's Whistlestop at the Tracks, 2731 Brundage Road, in Baldwinsville; 638-6448.

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