Benjamin Franklin famously said, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” I am sure his observation, made over 200 years ago, rings true to many people as we struggle though the deaths and changes to everything caused by this pandemic — but still have our property taxes coming due.
It is worth noting that our elected officials thankfully have taken some small steps to ease this semi-annual burden on seniors and the newly unemployed by extending the date when taxes may be paid without penalty. It is also worth noting that hardship and change mean the municipal revenue stream will be scrutinized more carefully by strapped residents going forward on the long road ahead to recovery.
As we start to emerge from our quarantine state, it is essential to reevaluate what is important for the well-being of our community, environmentally and fiscally, and to keep people well.
Last week, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the “Reimagine New York” initiative. This initiative looks at the COVID-19 catastrophe as a chance to reevaluate pre-existing problems, find new solutions to address the problems coming out of the recovery, and to look at problems as they come up. Some of the old problems will go by the wayside. But the governor believes the state can become better prepared, and with a stronger economy.
I would like to apply that same concept to local government in Southampton Village.
Organizations such as the Business Revitalization Committee and the Lake Agawam Conservancy have worked for the better part of a year to solve long-standing issues of water quality and the struggling business district
To fix these and other problems, it is going to take time and a real dialogue with the public and all interested parties. The Village Board must look beyond itself and encourage discussion.
Let us reimagine our village by building on successful public-private partnerships and creating a working relationship with local businesses to revive vitality and prevent the eyesore of empty storefronts. Working together, we can face what problems come our way.
We have to be more responsive and responsible with a $30 million-plus budget. We must cut costs and become more efficient. Even the slight raise in village taxes that went out in the mail has caused hardship for some and a lot of grumbling. We can’t continue to ignore and pay for questionable practices of the past or be wasteful in the future.
Making the best out of a bad thing is an opportunity. There is no one solution to these problems, but if we work together, we will find the tools for success.
Joseph R. McLoughlin
Mr. McLoughlin is a candidate for Southampton Village Board — Ed.
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