To the People

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Why Are Long Islanders Less Happy Than Northern Virginians? Hint: They Pay More Taxes

Residents of Long Island are plagued by one of the most onerous property tax burdens in the nation. Why are their taxes so high? A study reported by the Washington Examiner compares Long Island's taxes to those of two demographically similar counties in Virginia, Loudon and Fairfax. The findings were stunning and give ammo to every tax cutter's arsenal:
Long Island has 13 percent more government employees than Northern Virginia, spending nearly 83 percent more on total salaries — two reasons for a higher government costs there. [Leo comment: Wow, note that cost per employee differential for two East Coast locations.]

...this results from New York’s laws requiring negotiation with local government unions. And the excessive number of employees results more from Long Island’s history under both Republican and Democratic regimes as an epicenter of political patronage.

Similarly, Fairfax/Loudoun have 17 governmental units, compared with Long Island’s 239 units. The latter number includes county, town, village and special district governments, and 127 school districts.
The facts show that Long Islanders, like high tax payers everywhere, are being fleeced by government inefficiencies and regulations. Interestingly, the Examiner allowed a member of the Fairfax County school board, whom I could only deem is an advocate of higher spending on schools, write this article, and by reading it and its headline you can see how obviously (and poorly) he tries to slant the story to imply that Long Islanders get better services. I say imply because he doesn't come up with one example to support anything except that Long Islanders pay higher taxes. In fact his attempt to spin in the face of convincing data might say more to readers than the actual data. The reporter's retort to the finding that
the living is better in Northern Virginia and...the Long Island Index report demonstrates that Northern Virginians are a lot happier with their lifestyles than their cousins to the north
is that
Northern Virginians are waiting for a local leader to step up to the plate
a leader who, I assume, will raise taxes and reduce residents' happiness and make them more like grousing Long Islanders, who have nothing more than Virginians but inefficiency, higher taxes and unhappiness.

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