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November 2017 Column - Local and National Tax Reform Discussions


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Home Energy Assistance Program outreaches to assist residents with this year’s application process
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As this column hits newsstands, I will be arriving in Washington D.C. to participate in a panel discussion at the invitation of the White House to discuss tax reform. This invitation comes at a time when taxpayers have many concerns about the national discussion, and I look forward to being a voice for Erie County residents.


I am honored to have this opportunity to discuss tax reform on the national level, especially when it can have such a large effect locally. The state and local tax (SALT) deduction is a large part of that discussion. For many states, the elimination of the SALT deduction isn’t a major concern. However, in  high tax states like New York, New Jersey  and California, that deduction is a huge savings, and one that homeowners have come to rely on and expect. The SALT deduction provides for a deduction on state/local property taxes and a deduction that can be used for either state income taxes or state sales taxes, whichever is higher.


According to the nonpartisan Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, if the SALT deduction is eliminated, it’s estimated between 25 and 30 percent of New York households would face a tax increase, with the average increase being over $2,500.


Locally, we have municipalities currently trying to figure out next year’s budget. We have seen everything from no increase to upwards of a 12 percent tax increase in some towns. I recognize that towns have a lot to deal with and pay for, but asking residents to pay more isn’t the solution on any level of government.


On the county level we face the same challenges as our local governments. Costs are increasing, and revenues decreasing. That doesn’t mean tax increases are the solution. As a member of the Erie County Legislature, I am proud to say that Erie County will not be raising taxes next year. Since being elected to the Legislature, the tax rate has not increased, and I will do everything I can to prevent a tax increase.


Earlier this week, I chaired the Legislature’s Budget Committee to meet with each department head and elected county office to discuss their proposed budget for 2018. These hearings are an important part of the budget process as the Legislature now gets to work to amend the County Executive’s proposed budget before voting on the final spending plan. Another important piece of the puzzle is the public hearing where members of the public are invited to speak to voice their opinion. These hearings are usually packed with representatives from cultural organizations, nonprofits and supporters of our libraries, but I invite all residents to provide feedback. We best serve the entire community by hearing from individuals with different perspectives and priorities.


The hearing will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 21 in the Legislative Chambers, 92 Franklin St., 4th Floor, Buffalo. You can pre-register to speak by contacting the Clerk of the Legislature at 858-7500 or email Anyone who is unable to attend the hearing is welcome to submit their comments in writing. Please email your statement to or mail to Clerk of the Legislature, 92 Franklin St., 4th Floor, Buffalo, NY 14202. I look forward to hearing your feedback.


Whether I am spending time discussing taxes in The White House or Old County Hall, my focus remains on how government – federal, state and local levels - can work together to lower out of control property taxes, while still providing the services that residents expect and deserve.