To the Valley News:
I recently received a document entitled “ABOUT YOUR 2013 PROPERTY TAX BILL,” reputedly from the Essex County Board of Supervisors, though owing to its misleading nature, I wonder.
In particular, the document contains the following statement:
“About 41 percent of the property tax bill you pay will pay just one bill - Medicaid”. This is very misleading. Outrageous, really.
First, only 14 percent of property taxes in Essex County go to the county. So, if for a moment we accept that 41 percent of the portion of property tax that goes to the County is to cover Medicaid, we discover that only 5.7 percent of our total property tax winds up in the funding stream for the County’s Medicaid obligation, not the unbelievable 41 percent contended in the document circulated by the County Board of Supervisors.
Second, what is really true about County Medicaid contributions is that they are $6.8 million, which is only 7 percent of the total county budget. It just so happens that the County raises almost all of the $6.8 million from its share of property taxes rather than the other (more than $80 million) it derives from other sources of its revenues. In aggregate residents, through taxes assessments and fees of all types, provide this seven percent, but viewed as a whole, only a small part of this is accounted for by the county’s portion of property taxes.
The distorted statement regarding “41 percent of the property tax bill you pay,” originates with resentment regarding, “unfunded mandates,” yet the ignores the reality that the overwhelming proportion of funding for these services comes from the Federal and State government, and benefits the county in the form of (taxable!) revenues to health providers and facilities, and essential health services for its citizens in need.
The Supervisors owe the County's citizens a more accurate and fair accounting regarding their resentment of, "unfunded mandates," that in fact only supplement much larger Federal and State contributions to essential services for our most vulnerable citizens.
Mark Gibson, Essex