Niagara County Resident Puts up Billboard Protesting Property Taxes

January 29, 2007

A project which has been discussed by Niagara County resident Lee Bordeleau for the past few months has finally become a reality. Bordeleau saw the Tax Foundation report which ranked Niagara County as having the highest median real estate taxes as a percentage of median home value, out of 775 high-population counties. Those numbers come from the 2005 American Community Survey, which looked at all counties with populations greater than 65,000. More on this story from the Buffalo News:

Lockport stockbroker Lee J. Bordeleau has followed through on his plan to erect a billboard declaring that Niagara County has the nation's highest taxes.

Bordeleau's billboard on South Transit Road (Route 78), just north of the border with Erie County, will be up for two months.

It states: "Welcome to Niagara County. We're # 1. We pay the highest property taxes in the United States. Too many government agencies employing too many workers, making too much money! Help us free Niagara! Go to FreeNewYork.org."

The Web site is Internet headquarters for a small-government group that arose out of Buffalo attorney James Ostrowski's Free Buffalo movement.

Bordeleau said the billboard had to omit a lot of what he wanted to write. Even a billboard has its limits.

"When I gave the copy to Lamar [the billboard company], they said it was too muddy. Even now, when you drive up Transit at 50 mph, you can't read half of it. I obviously couldn't put as much information on it as I wanted." (Full Story)

While educating residents about the property tax burden they face is a positive thing, if residents wish to lower their overall tax burden, they need to look beyond just property taxes and examine spending levels. Unless spending is cut, lowering property taxes would merely mean higher taxes elsewhere, such as sales taxes. Therefore, the real question local residents and policy makers should be asking is, what is the optimal level of government spending given the tradeoff of higher taxes?  And once we determine that level of spending, the tax burden should be levied in such a way that minimizes economic distortions.

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