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Editorial: Plan for tomorrow, now

Residents of Schenectady County — nay, residents of New York State — are no strangers to seeing bigger and bigger numbers on their property tax bills. No matter what municipal entity you look to, be it school, town, city or other, the inevitable direction of taxes is up.

Schenectady County has actually been the exception to the rule. But no longer.

Here are the basic details: If adopted as presented, Schenectady County residents would see a sizable jump in their property tax bill, as the county’s property tax levy would go up by 7.5 percent under the 2013 proposed budget.

We can pretty well assume something along these lines is going to happen, because the legislature on Monday, Oct. 1, voted to override the state property tax cap, which would have held the county to a levy increase of just under 3 percent.

It is not easy to budget as a local municipality these days. The state is shifting costs onto localities ever year and things like health care certainly are not getting any cheaper. But by the same token, homeowners in Schenectady County are struggling with a poor economy themselves.

Majority Leader Gary Hughes is quite right when he points out the county has done a good job keeping taxes in check for the past few years, and has even gone so far as to decrease the levy as of late. That is something unheard of in this day and age.

All the same, taxpayers in Schenectady County might be more receptive to a fiscal plan that spreads out the damage rather than dumping it all in one year. The sorry state of the economy is not a new development and the writing has been etched into the proverbial wall when it comes to state mandates. To crow about dropping taxes one year then sheepishly thrust them upwards the next does not just promote the appearance of incompetence, it is simply poor planning.

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