NORTH SALEM, N.Y. -- When State Senator Greg Ball (R,C - Patterson) spoke before the North Salem Town Board on August 9, he spent some time explaining his objection to the MTA payroll tax and his efforts to have it repealed. On Wednesday, Ball joined forces with Assemblyman Steve Katz (R, I - Yorktown) at Somers Town Hall to call for an immediate forensic audit of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). The tag, forensic, indicates a search for facts that can be presented in a court of law.
The MTA payroll tax, officially known at the Metropolitan Commuter Transportation Mobility Tax, was enacted in May 2009. It added an additional tax to individuals and businesses within the district served by the MTA and was intended to forestall a significant rise in commuter fares.
We know that the MTA is rife with corruption, said Ball. It goes all the way back to the building of their new headquarters at 2 Broadway and before that. Their projects constantly overrun the budget by two-three-four hundred percent. They have a billion dollar payroll. The comptroller promised us an accounting and never followed up.
Somers Supervisor Mary Beth Murphy explained that in towns such as Somers, you already pay town taxes and school taxes and business taxes. This is a tax upon a tax upon a tax. We ask the MTA to do the same thing we do in our homes. You analyze your spending practices and decide where to cut.
She thanked Ball and Katz for keeping the issue alive and fighting to keep it in the forefront. We are asking for transparency, she commented. You shouldnt have to ask for that.
Katz pointed out that an MTA tax repeal bill sponsored by Ball has already been passed by the state senate. But it has not seen the light of day in the assembly because Sheldon Silver refuses to introduce it. Sheldon Silver (D - Manhattan) is the Speaker of the House.
He added that the MTAs budget is a black hole. Especially when you consider the kind of service they offer.
The MTA did not offer immediate comment, but has said in the past that it welcomes forensic audits and that the payroll tax is necessary to avert service cuts and exorbitant fare increases. Last month, the MTA released a preliminary 2012 budget that calls for a three year salary freeze for workers and a 7.5 percent fare and toll increase for 2013 and 2015. That plan calls for the current payroll tax to remain in place, unchanged.
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