During a press conference on the day of Hurricane Sandy, Mayor Michael Bloomberg made the case for high taxes.
The moment came after a reporter asked him if New York City was doing enough in response to the storm. The mayor answered, "New York City taxes itself and spends the money to protect us and to have the services that will keep us going. And I know of no other city that does that. Which always annoys me when they say, ‘Oh, you’re a high taxed place,’ Yeah, and we get something for it."
A New York City resident making $50,000 per year pays $1,707 if he or she is single, and pays $1,635 if married and filing a joint return. You can check out the 2011 tax table here, if you're curious.
New Yorkers do pay some of the highest tax rates in the country. But Mayor Bloomberg makes an interesting point: New York City doesn't plan to rely on federal or state resources as the worst of the storm hits. FEMA will help pay for storm damage, but as the city hunkers down, it's on its own.
New York City provides its own shelters. City workers staff those shelters. The Mayor also said police and firefighters practice for these kinds of emergencies all the time. They don't need to worry about how they'll coordinate because they coordinate every day.
By the way, New York City won two national awards for its emergency preparedness last month. The city's Office of Emergency Management was recognized by FEMA for its administration of two programs, the New York City Citizen Corps Council and Partners in Preparedness.
So these are our higher-than-average tax dollars at work: The City of New York is deploying emergency crews, setting up shelters, and providing information during a major weather event.
New York City doesn't have to depend on federal help or wait for federal money if we have significant cleaning up to do after this massive storm. Other states who weren't hit by the storm probably won't have to pay our bills.
As Mayor Bloomberg said, its not perfect, but this is how the city takes care of itself. Pretty impressive.