A Day Late and $205,289,999 Dollars Short
Monday was MLK Jr. Day in remembrance of a man who fought ceaselessly and with grace against the idea that some people were “more equal” than others.
So this post is a day late. And as a Rockland County taxpayer, you just helped pay the $2,000,000 per day cost of County government.
I harped on the County last week because County government is vital in concept but has proven itself unable to manage its checkbook.
But one of the biggest reasons why government doesn’t get good information is because we, the People, aren’t always informed enough to shout the right information. Good information is necessary for good decisions.
As an elected, many people came to me complaining about a sewer smell that came from a County-run facility. Others came to me yelling about their taxbill, two-thirds of which is due to their school district, although the Receiver of Taxes was, at the time, receiving and processing the school taxes too, blurring the line between the Town and Schools (which are completely and legally separate, through State edict).
In government as in life, follow the money, so that you, as a taxpayer, can appropriately be a steward over the destiny of your dollars.
I use Orangetown as the example because I’m from there but these monetary relationships are generally applicable to all five of the Rockland towns (Clarkstown, Haverstraw, Orangetown, Ramapo, and Stony Point).
County government is huge, at three-quarters of a BILLION dollars passing through the structure. But since it’s divided across all 300,000 residents, your tax bill is mostly consumed by two other areas: schools and your town government, in that order.
In Orangetown, it costs over $20,000 to educate a child, which is about what a year at St. Thomas Aquinas College in Sparkill costs. I did not include Nyack and Nanuet School Districts in my charts because they are not wholly contained within Orangetown, meaning that the bill is split across communities. Those districts are about the same per student.
My parents live in Tappan so they pay to the Town ($64,433,817.00) and South Orangetown School District ($79,570,592.00).
The important note is not whether you’re getting the bang for your buck — everyone has an opinion plus one — but that when members of the public are holding people accountable for their tax dollars, it’s absolutely vital that we hold the right people accountable.
Town officials are accountable to just a third of your tax bill. I know, because I was one of them.
On Thursday, I’ll discuss participation rates in town, school, fire, and library elections (how many of you knew you could vote in all of these elections?).