Today is March 17th, St. Patrick's day.
All over the world, people are celebrating the life of one of the world's greatest missionaries by going out, partying and getting drunk.
Here in Buffalo however, the mood is a tad less festive. With the city in the hands of a state mandated Financial Control board, and Erie County facing major budget shortfalls from 50 years of tax and spend politics, Western New York politicians aren't so much wearin' the green as they are singing the blues.
For the last 6 months or so taxpayers have been letting Erie county politicians know how they feel. After having their feet held to the fire, the politicians are finally realizing that they can't continue to demand more from a shrinking tax-base, and are cutting back on spending.
However, in the midst of this great news, Amherst homeowners (Amherst is a major suburb of Buffalo, and part of Erie county) got a gut punch. While all around taxes and spending are being cut, the Amherst Town Assessor's office, with the arrogance of true bureaucrats, have made massive increases to the property assessments in Amherst. (See the link). This is causing nothing short of purple rage in Amherst as homeowners have to deal with hundreds to thousands of dollars more per year in increased property taxes due to the increased assessments.
Weary Man's own home assessment went from just over $70,000 to $100,000. An increase of nearly 30 large! And my assessment is nothing compared to some. It's no surprise that Amherst politicians are running scared. With many of them up for re-election in the fall, they are desperate to have this whole thing just go away. When a public meeting regarding the reassessment was suggested, most of the old guard rejected the idea outright. Saying about the last public meeting "It was 500 people screaming and hollering,".
Well no kidding! What a surprise that overtaxed, overregulated people would get upset that they are getting the tax shaft again! The politicians need to get a freaking clue. People are tired of paying through the nose for the 'privilege' of owning a home in Amherst. The politicians seem to think that as long as they give us worthless boondoggles like the Pepsi Center (big ugly ice skating center that's been in the red since day one.) That Amherst taxpayers will just bend over and say "Thank you sir, may I have another?". I think not!
And what, other than the Pepsi Center, do we get for all these excessively high taxes? We get substandard services, and overpaid workers with lousy attitudes. The Amherst Parks Department won't remove half-dead trees because only less than half the tree is dead. Meanwhile, the still living half of the tree, like a creeping nightmare slowly lifts and breaks up sidewalks in it's desperate bid to find enough nourishment. Those same sidewalks, despite being owned and their presence mandated by the town, must be repaired and maintained at great cost by the individual homeowners whose property the sidewalk crosses!
As long as we are on the subject of sidewalks, While one would assume that it would be a good neighborly thing to clear the snow from your sidewalk, In Amherst if you don't clear the snow in a timely manner, you get a ticket! You know it's winter in Amherst when you see the little old ladies out trying to clear their walks of 6-8 inches of heavy wet snow for fear of getting a several hundred dollar ticket from one of our vaunted town workers.
This is merely one rather small example in a long string of abuses that Amherst and Western New York residents have had to endure. Now, at long last, the sleeping giant is awakening. Locals here are realizing that they can no longer afford to fund every pet project and create new law over every minor incident. They are standing up and screaming "I'm mad as hell and I'm not gonna take it anymore!" We shall see if out town leaders finally take note and listen, or if they are too busy stuffing thier pockets and thier ears with thier ill-taxed gain to hear the sound of the taxpayers revolution roaring up behind them.