Statement to Metropolitan Transportation Authority

From: Orange County legislator Jeffrey Berkman


March 2, 2009


My name is Jeffrey Berkman. I am an Orange County Legislator representative of the City of Middletown and currently serve as the Democratic Caucus Legislative Leader. I urge you to reconsider and reject the proposed Metropolitan Transportation Authority tax increases. It is unfair for Orange County residents, businesses, schools, and libraries to be force to pay the same tax as other counties in the MTA region, most of which have one full vote each. As you know Orange County has only ~ of a vote. This is full taxation with only fractional representation.

Our Orange County school systems and public library districts will also be negatively impacted. It is poor public policy to impose payroll "mobility" tax increases especially at this critical time. Earlier today I stood shoulder to shoulder with Middletown Superintendent of schools Ken Eastwood and Orange County Legislator Tom Pahucki to oppose this increase tax burden anticipated to be $2,200,000 for the year for Orange Counties' schools. The Middletown School District alone is scheduled for increases in the amount of $225,OOO! The State of New York should reverse this concept of robbing Peter to pay Paul. Our school districts and library districts need financial support from state government and should be exempted from consideration for punishing MTA mobility taxation.

I oppose this Mobility tax plan in its entirety. The additional tax burdens on Orange County businesses are estimated to be $10 million which, does not correlate with the benefits received by Orange County residents by the MTA. When analyzing the Metro North Railroad proposed fairs they appear to exceed your announced of 23% and escalate to nearly 28%. This is a poor public policy proposal and is unsupportable.

It is my belief that the MTA is being unresponsive to the needs of the people of Orange County. Perhaps the reason you overlook the needs of my constituents because you are too large. Recently I requested that the Middletown/ Wallkill train station have adequate signage. After pressing this issue, finally a metal sign was installed. This inadequate sign was knocked down a month or so later and was never replaced. This symbolizes the broken and unresponsive service that MTA provides Orange County residents.

I appreciate the challenges before you; all local governments and authorities are facing increase deficient and budgetary constraints. This proposes plan envisions unfair financial burdens on my communities' public schools, my communities' public libraries, and all Orange County residents and is disproportional to any services provided.