I had the great misfortune of accidentally stumbling into a replay of the most recent Rotterdam Town Board budget vote meeting. Overall, it was probably one of the most embarrassing public displays ever by an elected body.
Personally, I was deeply disturbed by the proposed budget by the Supervisor which would’ve resulted in a 7.4% residential tax increase, and a whopping 11.4% commercial tax increase. It is incredulous that this budget was submitted by an administration that ran for election on a platform of lowering taxes!
Now, I’m supposed to be relieved by the surprise 11th hour budget proposal, subsequently adopted in a contentious 3-2 vote, by 3 of the dissenting Town Board members that results in a 3.5% residential tax increase and a 7.4% commercial tax increase? I’m not. Seemingly, I’m supposed to be enamored of these three so-called “3 Musketeers” for being my tax relief champions. That’s equally ludicrous! All of these officials campaigned on lowering taxes. Obviously, they can’t deliver. They should be voted out.
The truly disgusting part is not only did we just get a tax increase, but we got it by way of severe dysfunction and incivility. I’m reminded of that campaign question about getting along after elected that I’ve discussed a few times since. The Rotterdam Town Board has achieved the epitome of dysfunction, evidenced by the manner of budget deliberations, or lack thereof. Apparently, the members of the Revitalize Rotterdam Team are each choosing to go their separate ways…and they don’t seem to be hesitant about expressing their displeasure with one another quite rudely. The Supervisor demands respect yet then shouts at another Town Board member to “shut their mouth” while also calling them a “liar.” The councilmember on the receiving end of the insults is outraged by the show of disrespect yet is the same member that publicly shredded a resident a few months ago in an equally harsh manner. The bickering is childish, unprofessional, and utterly disgraceful. It’s also counterproductive. The fact that it is done publicly makes it even more so.
The reporter for the Spotlight seems equally out of touch – headlining a recap of the circus with stating the budget “cuts spending, lowers taxes.” That’s just plain wrong. The budget they adopted RAISES taxes. They only cut spending and lowered taxes relative to the previous outlandish proposal which really means they didn’t do either.
There should be one realized objective driven by one critical question: 0% tax increase by asking the question, what is absolutely essential? I’ve offered my views on how to achieve this objective in the past (November 2008). Until our elected start addressing the question properly we as taxpayers will get no respect.