Williamson Shriver Architects

The Thrasher Group

McKinley Architects & Engineers

May 31, 2012 - Volume 32 Issue 20


“Search for the truth is the noblest occupation of man; its publication is a duty.” - Anne Louise Germaine de Stael (1766-1817), a French-speaking Swiss author living in Paris and abroad who influenced literary tastes in Europe at the turn of the 19th century.




By Christopher Kinsler

My whole life, up to now, has been spent in New York.

I was born in New York, raised in New York. I went to college in New York, was married in New York. The list could go on for pages.

Until now.

Now, I'm happily becoming a West Virginian.

Don't get me wrong, there are millions of wonderful things in New York, particularly in my home of Bemus Point. There is natural beauty, great schools, friendly people.

Unfortunately, however, with all the wonders of western New York, there also are taxes. Incredibly high property taxes that often overshadow all else.

"In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes," Benjamin Franklin once said.

But New York takes that statement to a new level. If you look at a color-coded map of the most property tax-burdened counties in the United States, all of New York's counties are vibrantly depicted.

So when I read the words of a Jefferson County Schools Board of Education member, it was quite a breath of fresh air.

Board member Alan Sturm asked his colleagues to hold off on a vote that would have added curriculum coordinator positions to each of the district's middle schools. Sturm pointed out that he wasn't necessarily against the move, just that he needed more information before taking action either way.

Similar to Sturm, I'm not necessarily against the move. It's just not something that should be taken lightly. Nothing involving taxpayer dollars should.

For too long, New York state has operated on a spend-first basis. The results? Not good. Taxation is too high to recruit new businesses, and existing businesses are already paying a steep price. Homeowners are bearing the burden of a decades-long spending spree that will haunt taxpayers for just as long.

I don't mean to imply that curriculum coordinators are a bad idea. The idea certainly sounds intriguing and, as Sturm said, should be looked at in greater detail. The important thing that school districts and all governing agencies do is give taxpayers and students (or future taxpayers) the best bang for their buck.

Believe me, the last thing any of us want is to be in the property-tax mess I'm leaving behind in New York.

Christopher Kinsler is the editor of The Journal in Martinsburg. He can be reached at This column was published on May 20 and is used by permission.