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Counterpoint Part 1: A view from a reader

How high taxes has affected our county

Robert Doherty, Bethel
Posted 12/3/21

For the following four Fridays, Sullivan County Legislative Chairman Robert Doherty will talk about the State of the County from his perspective as a property owner, business owner and elected county …

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Counterpoint Part 1: A view from a reader

How high taxes has affected our county


For the following four Fridays, Sullivan County Legislative Chairman Robert Doherty will talk about the State of the County from his perspective as a property owner, business owner and elected county official.

To the editor:
My recent refusal to timely pay taxes on several of my properties garnered considerable attention both publicly as well as on social media.
Indeed, I was subjected to public ridicule and scorn during a recent meeting of the Legislature. I am pleased to announce that all of my property taxes have now been paid in full, together with any interest and penalties that had accrued.
This experience was particularly interesting given that I have been preaching for over two years that the greatest threat to development in this county is that the taxes are simply too high.
Young families looking to settle in this county, particularly in our [six incorporated] villages, are welcomed with a tax bill that in many cases is greater than their mortgage payment. Upstart business development can look forward to a tax bill that will make success nearly impossible.
A short ride through Liberty, for example, will expose numerous restaurants, including national chains, that have been shuttered, victims of the tax burden.
There should be no surprise that I had to endure the slings and arrows of my political opponents as part of their plan of personal destruction when many other elected officials and social leaders regularly find themselves on the tax foreclosure list while barely a sound is heard.
I would point out that the subject properties carry an aggregate value in excess of a quarter million dollars and none are encumbered by a mortgage. The very thought that I would risk any of these properties for a $15,000 tax bill is foolish conjecture.
My objective in not paying those taxes when due was precisely what we got, an opportunity to call attention to the plight confronted by too many in this county because of run away tax-and-spend policies of past legislatures, fire districts, school districts, towns and villages.
Consider a young family living in one of our villages where the taxing authorities all agree to stay within the 2 percent tax increase cap.
That family could face tax increases well in excess of 2 percent annually, because of the multiple taxing authorities that each get a bite of that tax cap apple. It is those unsung folks, whose names do not excite my opposition to take up arms, that I fight for everyday as the Chairman of the Legislature.
To be clear for those detractors, I offer this letter in my role as Robert A. Doherty property owner and taxpayer in Sullivan County who, by virtue of the trust bestowed upon me be the voters of District 1, also happens to be a Legislator and offers a measure of input into this issue.
By virtue of the trust bestowed upon me by my colleagues I also happen to hold the role of Chairman of your Legislature, but I write as a taxpayer to provide insight into my thoughts regarding the future of our County and would not suggest that I speak for the entire Legislature.
It is my intention, through what will be a series of five installments, to provide my vision and thoughts for the County and its future and through that process to provide to each of you a better understanding for the overarching philosophy that has guided much of our work during the first two years of my administration.

* * *
Each February a handtruck containing foreclosure documents are delivered to the County Court Judge by Sullivan County Treasurer [Nancy Buck]. This is one of her statutory responsibilities and likely one that brings her no joy.
She is very good at what she does, in fact, she has been recognized across the state as an expert in the area of tax foreclosure. Each year Mrs. Buck delivers a large stack of documents; each one representing a young family losing their home, an entrepreneur losing their business, a retired couple losing their investment, [etc.]
Each one of these documents has a story, one that is never told and never acknowledged. The inescapable conclusion though is that each time a family loses their property they are losing what should be one of their most cherished personal investments representing for many the largest component of their personal wealth.
These are not mortgage foreclosures where people have made an agreement to pay a fixed amount monthly for 15, 20 or 30 years. These are tax foreclosures that occur when out-of-control government spending produces such a financial burden on already cash-strapped households that they crumble under the weight and lose everything.
Literally from our first day in office we confronted an issue left behind by the previous administration that called for an expenditure of $5.2 million dollars for construction of a visitor’s center in Rock Hill.
My administration saw this as a needless luxury that the County could not afford and moreover a luxury that would yield very little benefit to the County as most visitors look to online sources to gather information about an area and do not look to stop in at a brick and mortar visitor’s center. While such a facility may have been nice to have, we believed then as we believe today it was a very expensive luxury item that would produce tax burden and debt that Sullivan County could not afford, one that the tax payers should not be asked to fund.

Robert Doherty


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  • DRC

    Sad to say, so many of our friends have sold their properties and left this county during the last ten years because of ever rising taxes they just couldn't afford to pay, didn't want to pay, especially when we all see way too many properties OFF the tax rolls. If EVERYONE paid their fair share of property taxes, everyone's tax bills would be so much lower.

    Friday, December 3, 2021 Report this