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Today, New York taxpayers struck a blow in the fight against governments that nickel-and-dollar them with illegal fees that they can’t afford.
The Government Justice Center (GJC) filed a lawsuit against Suffolk County’s illegal use of fees. The county has turned to illegal fees to grab revenue from overburdened Long Islanders. They’ve added new fees, and then quickly raised them to rake in even more money.
These fees are government turning to highway robbery instead of doing their job and budgeting responsibly. State law requires fees to be connected to the cost of a service, and Suffolk is abusing them to grab revenue. For example, the Real Property Tax Service Agency generates over 5,000-percent more in revenue than it costs to operate.
When getting one mortgage processed, Suffolk’s illegal fees are looting over $400 from a resident. It is outrageous.
These predatory fees hurt those who can least afford it. Fees related to home loans, like mortgages, punish families who need to take out a second mortgage, or a home equity loan. These fees can get so high that they prevent a new home buyer from being able to afford closing costs – now that sounds like ‘driving people out of house and home’.
It is no wonder that Suffolk has become so hostile to taxpayers and businesses that the county has recently seen a decline in population.
Suffolk’s fees are illegal, and just plain wrong. They also do not work. Year after year Suffolk’s own budget documents show fees falling short of revenue projections. This only keeps the county looking for more illegal fee increases as they desperately try to fill budget gaps.
The GJC’s lawsuit has the potential to protect overburdened Suffolk residents, as well as all New Yorkers. If this suit is successful, it will be clear statewide that local governments can’t get away with illegal fees any more – and no New Yorker will ever have to pay more than they legally should. Then politicians can do their job and budget responsibly.