To secede or not to secede, that is the question. Folks, if you don’t know now let me tell you, the secession movement is well underway. In the last nine years over one million residents, many of them your family, friends, and neighbors, have fled the tri state area, no group faster than retirees with city pensions. Companies like IBM, GE, and Westinghouse have led the charge of businesses who have run for the hills. Even Amazon, run by the ultra-liberal billionaire Jeff Bezos was run out of town before he even put a shovel in the cold Queens dirt.
Yes, secession is all around us. That’s why it was only a matter of time before secession reared its head in the forgotten borough of Staten Island. This is why I created the website www.STexit.nyc where you can go to read the documents from the attempted secession of 1993, participate in surveys, have your voice heard in forums, and participate in this most important conversation. I look forward to this site, and my Facebook page STexit Staten Island to provide all Staten Islanders an opportunity to participate.
Is secession right for Staten Island? No one can say with any degree of certainty at this point. But for my money, for my instinct, I say commonsense dictates it is likely the right move for Staten Island residents. Is there a no more commonsense reason to believe that we are the forgotten borough then because we are, in fact, the forgotten borough? People are very smart, and they know when they are getting shortchanged and Staten Island is getting short changed. Have you ever heard one of our elected politicians tell us that we have gotten more than our fair share? No, you haven’t, because they stand in unison with the shortchanged theory.
There are commonsense reasons to believe that secession would bring prosperity and a better quality of life to Staten Island. First, we have the second highest per capita income in NYC, just short of Manhattan. Unlike Manhattan, with so many of the ultra-rich, our middle-class taxpayers likely pay a higher percentage of their income in taxes. Commonsense says we should see no proportionate loss of income tax revenue if we taxed at the same rate as NYC. The same goes for sales tax revenues. If we have a high per capita income, is it reasonable to think we spend higher amounts than other boroughs? And those property taxes – do you know that Staten Island and the Bronx pay a disproportionate rate of tax to value as compared to the rest of the city? From an income standpoint, we should do just fine.
What about expenditures? Staten Island has 6.5% of the population, but thankfully our crime rate is so low we only have about 3% of the police. I’m betting that most city services are the similar. Except, we probably have far fewer NYPD traffic cops who direct traffic. I’ll go out on a limb and guess we have less than one percent of these employees. I’m sure Staten Islanders are paying for a lot of them to direct Manhattan traffic. Don’t even get me started about our woeful road conditions or the failure of our transit system that gives us one of the highest commute times in the nation.
But alas, the Naysayers are out in full force with unsubstantiated scare tactics. One of their favorite unverified cries is, “Our property tax will double.” That surely strikes fear into the heart of Staten Islanders, where the largest percentage of residents own their homes. However, to cry our taxes will double doesn’t make it true. Unfortunately, as city residents we are once again second-class citizens in our own homes. Several years ago, NY State passed a law that says property taxes are capped at a 2% increase per year. Unfortunately, as NYC residents, we were excluded from this property tax cap. So, leaving NYC would actually include us – for once- in this benefit. So, under existing state law our property taxes can’t just double, unless you are projecting a doubling over decades.
Should we do anything this important just because commonsense says we should? Of course not, but should we ignore commonsense? Don’t be silly. If you’ve read this far then you are probably one of the Staten Island residents who don’t want to move, or maybe simply can’t flee like so many of our friends and neighbors. That’s why now it is so important to bring every Staten Islander to the table – to do the math – and formulate the best plan to break free from a city that has at the very least, convinced us that we are getting the short end of the stick. Or, maybe it’s the time, we were educated that we have it better than we think, we should remain the forgotten borough and just be quiet. The point is, its facts, education, and reality that should guide our decision not fearmongering, hyperbole, hearsay.
Sam Pirozzolo is a native Staten Islander. Sam and his wife just celebrated their 28th wedding anniversary, and have two beautiful children who attended both public schools, and were home-schooled. He is running for City Councilman position to succeed Steven Matteo.