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August 01, 2014
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Why are property taxes so darned high? Part III of this series, continued

Ken Hilton

New York State contains almost 10,000 separate local government entities. And in Sullivan County, one of the state’s least populated counties, we have 15 towns, 21 villages, eight school districts, eight library systems, and numerous fire, water, sewer and other districts, plus the county government itself. Because of our numerous small local government units, Sullivan County lacks what economists refer to as “economies of scale,” making local government services more costly than in most other counties nationwide. This factor, plus those described above, helps to explain why our local property tax burden is so high—higher in fact, than in 99% of the other counties across America.

[Editor’s note: In two future articles, Ken Hilton will look at the real-life consequences of high taxes on our Sullivan County neighbors, and he will examine Gov. Cuomo’s proposal to reduce the number of local government bodies in the state through consolidating their services and municipal governments themselves to create more regional bodies.]