Saturday, October 24, 2015

Partners in Poverty . . .

Oneida County, with the highest sales tax north of New York City and one of the highest sales tax rates in the country, is giving money away! Yes, believe it or not, as overtaxed as we are in Oneida County, the County has given away almost $3,000,000 so far this year.  It is called "Partners in Prosperity Funding" with the money coming from gaming revenue from the Oneida Indian Nation Settlement Agreement.

All the giveaways become occasions for press releases and big announcements. The latest grant announcement was Thursday: $500,000 to the Vernon Verona Sherrill School District for an "Animal Science Center." From WUTQ . . .
The money will go toward the construction of a building that can house 6 different types of livestock.

The funding and new center will expand the already established agriculture program at VVS High School. “What this does is allows our students to have an animal science program,” said VVS Superintendent Martha Group. “It also allows them to partner with local agriculture farmers, production individuals, and companies. So what the students can do is take on a real life experience working in the agriculture and science field.”
Without a doubt, this project will help students going into agricultural fields.  It will also increase the stature of the already award-winning VVS School District. But why is the County funding this project, rather than the Vernon Verona Sherrill School District, because, ultimately, the Vernon Verona Sherrill School District will be responsible for maintaining it?

There are many projects listed as being funded by Oneida County through its "Partners in Prosperity Funding" program. Like the Animal Center project at VVS, they all have merit -- and all raise the same question:  Why County funding rather than funding raised directly by the entity being benefited?

As already noted, these giveaways total almost $3 million -- this figure EXCLUDES amounts for "Tax Stabilization" and pursuant to "Revenue Sharing Agreements" with certain local jurisdictions.

"Revenue Sharing" was excluded because the Oneida Nation does not pay taxes to the entities listed, and revenue sharing somewhat replaces those taxes.  In this regard, VVS SD, which is getting the $500,000 grant for the Animal Center, is also getting $643,415.00 in revenue sharing.  Which all the more makes one wonder why VVS-SD does not fund the Animal Center itself?

The $2,500,000 listed for "Tax Stabilization" is really a grant by the County to itself.  While the County lists this as "resulting in 0% raise to the tax levy in 2015" it could also be listed as "masking an increase in County spending.

In the end, the taxpayers (anyone and everyone who buys almost anything in Oneida County) are still being taken advantage of by their own county government.  Money that should go to sales tax relief is instead being used to buy votes among constituencies and to mask more spending.

Rather than "Partners in Prosperity" we are "Partners in Poverty." The County takes more from us than it needs -- driving more of us to leave -- and making those left behind poorer.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The simple truth is that we are severely overtaxed. When the county annually collects more than it needs and then takes credit for a surplus or for not raising taxes, it is playing a sleight of hand game that only dummies fail to realize. Then it turns around and uses pennies from the Oneidas relative to what they should be paying and "gives" it away to favorites.