Thursday, October 05, 2006

Upstate, Downstate, Its STILL The Property Tax, Stupid!

Tax Woes In Upstate New York Counties -- from Broome to Chautaqua -- Mirror Those In Nassau

Okay. We know how bad things are taxwise (or not so taxwise) here on Long Island. But things don't look much better as we travel north.

Our colleagues and compatriots at the Upstate blog tell us that there's plenty to worry about in Poughkeepsie, and more than a few sad homeowners in Syracuse.

The news isn't all bad, however, as there are platitudes in Plattsburgh, where Franklin County property taxes are slated to decrease by more than 14%, and the tax rate itself will decrease by an amazing 29%. [Maybe we should send our Nassau County Legislators on a field trip!]

Westchester and Nassau counties have the dubious distinction, according to a Tax Foundation report, of having the highest property taxes in the nation. [Gee, we could have told you that!]

It isn't pretty out there, folks, and from all indications -- those great big taxable rebate checks aside -- its going to get alot worse before our friends in the NYS Legislature do anything substantive to begin to make it better.

So, read on, blog aficionados, as we commiserate with our neighbors from the southern tier to the northern hinterlands.

And remember, Election Day is Tuesday, November 7th!
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Local Tax Watch: One measure says New York's property taxes are nation's heaviest
Local property taxes rank high; Burden in Monroe, Wayne is among nation's biggest as share of home value (Jim Fitzgerald/Associated Press)

Homeowners in the suburban counties closest to New York City--Westchester and Nassau--pay the highest property taxes in the nation, a Census Bureau survey shows.

But when counties were ranked based on taxes as a percentage of home value, a different group of New York counties topped the nation: Niagara, Monroe, Onondaga, Wayne and Chautauqua were the top five.

A table posted online Wednesday by the Tax Foundation, a nonpartisan tax research group, showed that the median tax paid for an owner-occupied house in Westchester was $7,337 last year, highest in the nation. Nassau was second at $7,025. The median means half of all homeowners pay higher taxes--and as million-dollar evaluations became common, so did annual property tax bills exceeding $20,000.

The rest of the top 10 counties, in order, were Hunterdon, Bergen and Essex in New Jersey; Rockland in New York; Morris and Somerset in New Jersey; Putnam in New York; and Union in New Jersey.

Twenty of the 21 most highly taxed counties were in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, the survey showed, and most of those were tightly clustered around New York City.
. . . .
The Tax Foundation compiled the table and the rankings with data from the Census Bureau's 2005 American Community Survey, an annual survey of 3 million households, or about 2.5 percent of the population. The figures, therefore, are from the homeowners, not from actual tax collections.

Broome property taxes 18th in U.S.; Survey calculates rates as percentage of home value (Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin)

By One Measure, Property Taxes Among Highest in U.S. (John Mariani/Syracuse Post-Standard)

[Chautaqua] County Ranks Near Top In Nation For Tax Burden (Jamestown Post-Journal)

[Chautauqua] County Satisfied With $15M Capital Projects Budget (Dennis Phillips/Jamestown Post-Journal)

A $15 million capital projects budget for 2007 seems to be satisfactory for county legislators and County Executive Greg Edwards.

On Wednesday, the Public Facilities and Audit and Control committees discussed 2007 capital projects, with Robert Anderson, D-Frewsburg and Public Facilities Committee chairman, saying the county is making the appropriate investment.

"I think for a county our size, knowing times are still difficult with the rise in fuel cost and the rise in building materials, it's about what we can afford to do," he said. "We always wish there was room for a wish list of things we would like to see done."

Edwards said the capital projects budget was determined after analysis was done by the county's Planning Board, which is a group of volunteers that spent many hours looking into potential projects.

Peterson's city budget nearly $52M; Tax levy to increase by 6.1%; public works to get a boost (Jennie Daley and David Hill/Ithaca Journal)

Ithaca Mayor Carolyn Peterson proposed a 2007 budget for the city that focuses on boosting the Department of Public Works and customer-service operations.

Peterson said Wednesday that the budget is designed to address problems seen in the city including neglected infrastructure, crumbling buildings and diminished service to the public.

To meet these needs and the rest of city costs, the mayor's proposal includes a 6.1 percent increase in the tax levy and a 2.3 percent increase in the tax rate. For the average home in the city, which is estimated at $145,000, this would mean an additional $43 in city taxes next year for a bill totaling $1,966, according to City Controller Steve Thayer. Total spending in 2007 would be $51.83 million. Of that, $300,000 would be added to the public works budget, with the same amount allotted in each of the next four years.

"We can have a zero-percent increase in the tax levy and a zero-percent increase in the tax rate but, after talking to the community, I've made the decision that to stop any work on the roads or sidewalks or to cut firefighters is not in the community's interest," Peterson said.

Oneida County budget unveiled today (Elizabeth Cooper/Utica Observer-Dispatch)

Oneida County residents will find out today what County Executive Joseph A. Griffo's fiscal plan for 2007 is.

Last year's budget totaled $321.83 million, and if this year's goes above that, it could mean a property tax hike.

The county is facing some rising costs:

"Health insurance costs for county employees may rise as much as 12 percent over this year's or more than $1 million," county Budget Director Tom Keeler said.

"Contractual raises for county employees are part of the 2007 budget. Those costs are rising roughly 3 percent, or more than $1 million," Keeler said.

"State mandated programs for the education of children with disabilities may go up as much as $800,000," Keeler said.

Like homeowners across the nation, the county must prepare for the possibility that fuel costs will go up next year.

Next year, the county still will get income from the 1.5 percentage point sales tax instituted in 2005.

The tax was reduced 0.5 of a percentage point in September, and according to the county's current plan, the remaining 1 percentage point would remain in place for most of 2007.

7% hike in budget is sought; [Town of Poughkeepsie] tax levy would rise 4.6% (Michael Valkys/Poughkeepsie Journal)

Town of Poughkeepsie residents with homes assessed at $200,000 would see their town tax bills increase about $22 under a 2007 budget proposal released by Supervisor Patricia Myers.

Myers presented her proposed spending plan to the town board Wednesday night at town hall. The $27.8 million budget represents a spending increase of 7 percent over the $25.9 million plan approved in 2005 for the current year.

Myers, preparing her first budget since taking office in January, called the proposal "frugal" with little room for reductions.
. . . .
The budget would increase the tax levy, or the amount to be raised by taxes, to nearly $16.8 million, a 4.6 percent hike.

Myers said expenses outside the board's control are the main reason for the spending increase, with health insurance, retirement costs, employee contracts and debt service as key culprits.

"It's mostly fixed costs," Myers said. "We are being very frugal."

Land taxes down 14 percent; Franklin County able to ease burden of property tax (Denise A. Raymo/Plattsburgh Press-Republican)

The tentative 2007 Franklin County budget has topped the $100 million mark for the first time, but it appears to lower property taxes by more than 14 percent.

The overall budget proposal is $100,327,186, an increase of 6.82 percent from the 2006 budget.

However, the amount to be raised by taxes has been reduced by $2 million due, in part, to the 1-percent increase in sales tax the County Legislature initiated in June.

The total tax levy stands at $13,211,619, a decrease of 14.02 percent, according to figures released by County Manager and Budget Officer James Feeley.

And the tax rate per $1,000 of assessed-property value will plummet 29 percent, going from $6.13 to $4.35.

A homeowner with a property valued at $100,000 would pay $434.84 in 2007 compared to $612.96 in 2006.

Initial budget contains increase; Supervisor says the $12.23 million plan 'basically keeps town running.' (John Doherty/Syracuse Post-Standard)

[Onondaga County Townof] Clay Supervisor Mark Rupprecht Monday presented a $12.23 million town budget proposal that is about 10 percent higher than the current spending plan.
The proposal calls for no new spending or major projects for 2007, Rupprecht said.

Manlius takes first look at 2007 budget; Slight decrease in tax rate seen in tentative spending package unveiled last week (Jim Read/Syracuse Post-Standard)

Town of Manlius taxpayers will see small decreases in the tax rate if no changes are made to the tentative budget presented to the town board last week.
. . . .
The board will work on the budget for the next several weeks. The revised plan will be presented at a public hearing, which most likely will be scheduled for Oct. 25.

[Town Supervisor Hank] Chapman said he projects the overall full-town tax rate, including highway tax, to be $4.258 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, down from $4.327 in 2006. The part-town tax rate is projected at $3.168 per $1,000, down from 3.273 in 2006.

Overall spending in the full-town fund, the largest budget which covers most services, is up 2.32 percent to $6.8 million.

Budget keeps taxes in check; Supervisor says town will use nearly $1.37 million in town surplus mone (John Doherty/Syracuse Post-Standard)

Cicero councilors have proposed a 2007 town budget that calls for no tax levy increase.

The town board is considering a $9.57 million budget that is 9.4 percent larger than this year's budget, yet calls for raising the same amount of taxes that was collected in 2006.

"Our goal is to achieve a zero tax increase, if at all possible," said Supervisor Chester Dudzinski.

The 2007 proposal calls for using nearly $1.37 million in town surplus money to offset taxes. This year's budget used about $800,000 for that purpose.

Spa budget would raise taxes 6 percent (Glens Falls Post-Star)

Finance Commissioner Matthew McCabe on Tuesday proposed a $35.6 million [Saratoga Springs ]budget for 2007 that would increase property taxes for homeowners by 5.92 percent.

McCabe said taxpayers "will receive uncompromised services, increased city resources and a reasonable tax rate" of $5.01 per $1,000 assessed property valuation under the proposed budget.

Residents owning a $200,000 home would pay a $1,002 tax bill, about $56 higher than last year, under the budget proposal.

The $35.6 million spending plan represents a 10 percent spending increase from the $32.2 million 2006 budget.

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