By Candra Thomason
I want you all to ask yourself this question: “Do the homeowners of Niagara Falls want their property assessments to rise between 17 and 40 percent next year?”
That is the vital question facing voters this fall. We can’t afford to make the same mistake we made when Dyster dropped this bombshell of citywide reassessments on the city less than a week after his 2015 re-election. Add that to having the highest crime rate in the State, lack of substantial economic development and this administration’s failure to provide us with the basic quality of life issues and these are just a few of the reasons I am running.
The two incumbents up for re-election this year are staunch supporters of Dyster’s plan to fix his increasingly upside-down budget on the backs of residents and business owners. You can very well imagine that if they hold the majority of votes on the council once again we can expect another post-election deception.
Incumbents Andy Touma and Kristen Grandinetti have spent much of their time in office trying to convince taxpayers that a citywide reassessment is the fair thing to do – all the while rubber stamping every big-ticket spending plan Dyster has slid across their desk. Touma was even quoted in the Niagara Gazette praising Dyster’s post-election plan because, in his words, “That’s revenue the city is losing out on.”
Why on earth should the voters give them more of our hard-earned dollars to further mismanage? If they weren’t able to properly manage two-hundred million dollars of casino revenues, then I say not a penny more for their misguided agenda.
I am heartened that the group known as the “Committee to Stop the Reassessments & Continuous Tax Increases” has taken the lead to inform the public about this money grab. Niagara Falls is already one of the highest taxed municipalities in the state and many of our citizens are elderly and on fixed incomes.
They, along with our overburdened businesses, will be hit the hardest. That’s why I am pledging to hold the line against reassessments if elected.
As a small business owner in this city I know first-hand how onerous the tax burden is on making it affordable to operate here. In fact, despite all the talk about equalizing the tax rate over the past decade, Dyster, Touma, and Grandinetti have done nothing to offer any relief. Instead, they pilfered precious casino dollars from economic development in order to increase the annual operating budget. Now that Dyster and Cuomo have failed to secure continued payments with the Seneca Nation we are faced with a gaping ten-million-dollar shortfall.
And that’s their end-game with reassessments – to cover up their failures as elected officials.
Property owners who have their assessments increased will not only be hit with higher city taxes, but county and school taxes as well. This triple threat will decimate anyone who has built up equity in their home or business. We can’t allow this to happen when we know that our elected officials have no spending plan in place to begin with.
The final insult to taxpayers likely to get hit hardest with the tax increase is that we will be forced to pay up to one million dollars to perform a city-wide reassessment. There is nothing in the law requiring the city to move ahead with this money-grabbing scheme, so we need to make sure that we elect council members willing to stand up for taxpayers.
As a candidate for City Council this year, I am asking each of you for your support so we can kill this reassessment plan once and for all. I have the experience necessary to help get Niagara Falls back on track toward fiscal responsibility.