This is an excerpt from my book, Born Minus: From Shoeshine Boy to News Publisher, An Italian-American Journey. It’s similar to musings I’ve published several times over the years, saying that today’s rising property taxes are especially unfair to senior homeowners.

The only thing I want to add today is that the taxes Rockland pays to the MTA are the least justified, and the most unjust. Voters, tell your Legislators and County Executive Scott Vanderhoef, who declined to get the MTA out of Rockland even though our legislature voted for it, that their political ties to the MTA board shouldn’t dictate our taxes!

Why shouldn’t senior homeowners qualify for a cap on their property taxes in New York? Elderly couples, living in their Rockland County homes for 40 years and more, are being forced out, because they can’t keep up with their real estate taxes. These people worked for many years, kept up their houses, and paid their mortgages and taxes. When they were young, they could afford everything; they planned to finish paying their mortgages, and to live comfortably on their fixed incomes and savings. Now, as they retire, they find that they can’t make it on a fixed income in Rockland County. Either they must go back to work or lose their homes. Does New York State want to tell us that’s just they way it is?

Today, property taxes alone are more than most senior couples ever paid on their mortgages and income taxes put together. The most recent “stimulus” did nothing for the senior citizens. The politicians took care of themselves, and not the people who put them there. Our representatives took care of helping the corporations out of debt, but left not a dime for the senior citizens. In fact, the government double-crossed the senior citizens. Seniors won’t benefit from the Social Security increases of recent years, and now the politicians want to lower Medicare expenditures on old folks.

Retired senior homeowners are struggling to pay their taxes, and no one seems to care. It seems that the Rockland County government, instead of valuing the elderly for their contributions to the community, wants us to move out, if we can’t afford it.

The school taxes are particularly unfair to longtime homeowners. The education experts, promoting new programs and constant building and rebuilding, are spending our money, not theirs. Young couples from New York City demand more money for schools or other programs and don’t feel the tax increases like we do. They forget that although today’s income might support high school taxes, the seniors’ income, mostly pension checks based on salaries earned years ago, does not.

We love our homes and want to stay right where we are, next door to you. We would like to help by paying our taxes, but the schools treat us as if we are moneybags. Is it right that we should be forced out of our homes? Is it right that the community we took responsibility for forty years ago should not take some responsibility for us? Are the politicians and educators truly practicing fiscal responsibility and putting your children first, or are they just throwing our money at programs that will further their own reputations?

Wake up, senior citizens and Rockland County taxpayers! Don’t be suckers; don’t let people take advantage of you. Get together, maybe create or join a TEA party. Don’t just complain, do something about it. Complaining alone means nothing to the politician; to him, it is only a song.

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