Monday, February 26, 2024

Travis Whitehead: Queensbury is hiking taxes by 57% while it sits on a huge reserve

To the Editor:

The Queensbury Board recently voted unanimously to INCREASE our tax rate by 57%, which also required a second vote to break the protective NY tax cap. FACT.

Most assessed values will also be rising, so the tax bite will be even LARGER than that for most residents. FACT.

What was the rationale? We have been told that there are inflationary pressures and they (the town board) don’t want to be caught short.

BUT QBY has MILLIONS in reserve accounts for such a time. FACT.

We understand that there are inflationary pressures as we all have experienced them and now we have one more to worry about. The QBY town tax bill.

Do they understand the position they place their constituents in? Evidently not.

If you read the required Town financial audits you will see for years, in FACT for every year that John Strough has developed a budget his own budget OVERESTIMATED expenses and UNDERESTIMATED revenues which led to a SURPLUS of millions at the taxpayers expense.

In lay terms. QBY has been OVER TAXING the town residents. The FACT is, that surplus now exceeds $12 Million according to the latest figures from the State Comptroller.

When the comptroller states that there are enough reserves to pay 58% of its bills for a year even if revenues dropped to ZERO then undeniably QBY have been overtaxed.

John has repeatedly pointed to this huge surplus as an indication that they are doing a great job. Just the OPPOSITE is occurring. This board is over taxing all residents on a yearly basis.

What they are doing is protecting their budget at the expense of all of OURS! Before the Public Hearing and the vote immediately following I tried to educate my Ward representative. Before the Public Hearing I tried to make him aware of what the auditor and Comptroller were saying and County Supervisor Beaty and I would meet with him to go over the budget. His answer — NO! He didn’t want to discuss it.

Our Town has the means to keep the tax rate constant for years if needed. There is absolutely ZERO need to break the tax cap. We, like Saratoga and Rensselaer Counties, could even REDUCE the tax rate at a time when the population is under stress.

Instead this board INCREASED the spending and the budget by almost $6 Million when QBY has over $12 Million sitting in the bank.

Why did they do this? Because they knew they could. It is not only insulting to all residents, but should be an embarrassment for every member of this board.

They have not heard enough from the residents to worry about it. So ultimately it is this apathy that you can blame for what these Board members are doing, or more accurately, not doing, and that is paying attention to the needs of their constituents rather than themselves.

When you get your next tax bill, or any bill that seems a little harder to pay this year, reflect for a moment on whether your Town officials are doing their jobs or not. We all have tough choices to make and so should they.

—Travis Whitehead, Queensbury

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