New York state: High tax woes start locally

Controlling spending is one of the greatest challenges elected officials face on any level. It is also the problem that is most likely to be ignored.

Consider state Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who when he first took office in 2011, was all about reining in runaway expenses. One of the first things he did was freeze wages for state employees and later initiated a property tax cap. It certainly was not popular with the unions, but it worked in getting costs under control during his early tenure.

But today, he’s not as frugal as he was seven years ago. Instead, he blames the federal government for Albany’s $4.4 billion deficit. He’s joined neighboring states to fight the most recent federal tax law, which hurts states with high property taxes. The governor also has received support from area leaders in Dunkirk Mayor Wilfred Rosas, Fredonia Mayor Athanasia Landis and Gowanda Mayor David Smith.

Of course local officials agree with Cuomo on the initiative. Like the state, they are just as guilty of overspending and then blaming someone else for not being able to control increasing expenses that lead to high taxes.

Don’t believe that hype. The mayors on board with Cuomo also are not watching their bottom line. Dunkirk recently created a new position. Fredonia will likely approve a hiring today and Gowanda is one of the smallest entities to have a police department in Western New York.

There’s a cost to each one of these perks, which proves there are places to cut locally — and in New York state.

But that takes guts. It is much easier to pin blame elsewhere than look internally and fix the problems.