Monday, February 05, 2007

Silly Council

Perhaps a Freudian slip by the mayor just three months removed from her bid to abolish the commissioner style of government? Don't be ridiculous, Valerie Keehn insisted after calling the City Council the "silly council" during her State of the City address Sunday.

But the Spa City's mayor might not have been far from the mark after basically thumbing her nose at two of the four commissioners, one of which she's been at odds with even before winning her seat in office. Democrat Tom McTygue was told in short terms and in a very public way to quit his verbal sparring with the vitriolic Colonel David Bronner, a lakeside resident who takes great pleasure in clawing his way beneath the Public Works Commissioner's skin.

And while maintaining proper decorum might seem like a no-brainer for most people in the public light, Keehn clearly felt the need to pitch a professionalism pledge for the council to sign as an exclamation point on a largely unremarkable speech. What exactly this pledge will entail and whether it will be enforced in some form is a question that remains unanswered.

Keehn's slight of tongue oddly came as she plugged away at the council's other democratic member, Accounts Commissioner John Franck, when offered to restart the assessment meter for him. Since taking office, Franck has advocated a freeze on reassessments, rightly calling broken the property taxing formula proffered by the state Office of Real Property Services.

But the mayor believes the only way to make property values fair is to reassess them annually. That way, when some deep-pocketed millionaire with money to blow purchases a property for well over it's truly assessed value, all the properties around that home can look forward to having their assessments --and consequently their property taxes --boosted.

The end result? More rich people in Saratoga Springs, while the pursuit of property becomes vastly unrealistic for the rest of the population. Looks like it's back to renting for seniors, young professionals and members of the proletariat.

Of course, that's not the message the "affordable housing" mayor is trying to convey. Instead, it's a reaffirming her "commitment to work with our city council and county officials to address the real need for affordable housing for our young working families senior citizens and valued service sector workers," she pledged during her speech.

Well, it's been 378 days since Keehn's last state of the city speech, which is just a few weeks shy of the amount of time her administration has presided over a municipality utterly devoid of affordable housing. To map this out, that's 1.7 million square feet of development including 1,374 residential building permits since the turn of the century without a single inch that could be considered affordable to anyone outside of the upper-middle class.

So instead using a quote from Martin Luther King in her speech, perhaps the mayor could have barrowed from a less distinguished but equally well known figure in history, who said "if you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it." True, Keehn doesn't forge even a remote likeness in body or spirit of this nasty little propagandist. But to think she's going to somehow wave a magic wand and make property affordable for the working class while annually boosting assessments is simply laughable.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have to disagree with your opposition to annual city-wide revaluation of property.

The mayor and city council can enact an Homestead Tax Option. The city of Albany and towns of Niskayuna, Colonie, and East Greenbush employ the Homestead Tax Option.

The option, when used, simply retains the existing balance between the percentages of the total tax bill paid by residential and non-residential property owners.

The state Office of Real Property Services web site offers a fine description of the Homestead Tax Option.

Also, don't wait for The Saratogian to write this story. After all, it's not yet spring break.

11:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Horatio,

The solution to affordable housing is a simple one: what the heck are we doing with all of those stables at the track during the off-season? This is where we can keep the restaurant and service industry folk, and in the summer they can be transfered to Ballston Spa or something. And if we really tapped into the migrant labor force in earnest, we wouldn't even have a "problem." Have they made disposable employees yet?

11:42 AM  

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