Monroe County democrats came out swinging Friday against republican county executive Maggie Brooks and her plan to close a $102-million dollar budget gap. Democrats say Brooks' budget fix plan amounts to the largest tax increase in Monroe County history. According to their calculations, the plan, passed in the legislature Wednesday, simply passes the buck to other local governments, creating $57-million dollars in new taxes spread among the suburbs.
The calculations, according to Democrats breaks down as follows:
School tax increases: $29.3 million
MCC Chargeback tax: $14.3 million
Increased Auto Registration Fees: $3.5 million
Suburban Tax Bills increased: $14.0
Property Tax Decrease: $3.8 million
"The school tax bill of EVERY person who lives outside of the City of Rochester is going to go up. When they get their school tax bills next September, every one of those school tax bills will have to go up," says Paul Haney, democratic legislator.
"Can you show me any year in which in most school districts, in most places, the school tax hasn't gone up every year in excess of inflation? So to say this is something that's going to make life any different is more than a bit of a stretch," says Bill Smith, republican county legislator.
It's no stretch to see that the issue is about to be major campaign fodder for democrats this November in their attempt to take control of the Monroe County legislature.
“There will be a lot of issues, I think this will be one of the pivotal issues,” says Joe Morelle, Monroe County Democratic Party Chair.
The Democratic Party did not put a candidate up against Brooks in the upcoming November election, citing largely financial resources as the reason.
“I think it would have focused attention on the County Executive and we all know that the County Executive and their team have amassed fortune in campaign contributions so that there's no way to basically pierce that.”
Instead, Democrats are focusing on the Monroe County legislature, where the gap has slowly narrowed over the years. The Democrats only need three seats to gain the majority in the legislature.
“Our focus for the party for the last 18 months has been for us to generate enough resources so that we can compete in county legislature races because we believe its fundamentally where change will start,” says Morelle.
The key districts: Pittsford, Penfield, Webster, Irondequoit, Parma and Greece when the FAIR ads began airing 24 hours ago it became a key campaign issue for democrats to try and take back the legislature.
“What that tells me is that the legislature wasn't briefed, the editorial boards weren't briefed, Mayor wasn't briefed, the community wasn't briefed but they had known about it for sometime because they were able to have already made television commercials and bought time on TV,” says Morelle, “on the one hand, you're going to have county legislators in the majority saying we didn't pass a tax increase, and we're going to be making the argument that yeah, there's roughly 60 million dollars in tax increases that's largely fall on taxpayers in Webster and Parma and Irondequoit etc.”
News 8 Now made repeated attempts to reach Republican Party Chairman Steve Minarik for contribution to this story, however, he was unavailable for comment.