The Camillus town board Tuesday night was on the defense as residents questioned their decision to request a portion of the town's cut of county sales tax revenue in cash for the first time in 10 years.
Calling the move "a shell game" played with taxpayer's money, former town Supervisor Don Fittipaldi and several other town residents questioned the board's motives when it submitted a request on Sept. 1 to recieve $800,000 of the nearly $5.1 million in sales tax revenue as cash, money that was previously credited the town as county property tax reduction.
Sales tax revenue acquired by the county each year is distributed throughout to municipalities and school districts. After a negotiated sum is allocated to the city of Syracuse, the remaining revenue is divided among the 19 towns in the county according to their population. Each town opts to receive the money in cash or as a tax credit, or a combination.
Camillus was set to receive approximately $5.1 million said William Davern, Camillus third ward councilor. For the last 10 years, that revenue has been credited the town taxpayers in the form of a reduction on county property taxes, lowering the percentage per $1,000 Camillus taxpayers hand over to the county.
As a result, said Davern, the town of Camillus appeared to have a higher property tax than neighboring towns, particularly the town of Geddes, which receives it's entire portion of sales tax revenue in cash.
"I can't tell you how many people I run into that say, 'I'm buying property here, or I'm buying property there, because I looked at the tax rate and it's lower than Camillus,'" said Davern. But a comparison between the county taxes paid be residents of different towns would show more balance, he added.
"No one is going to pay more, no one is going to pay less," said Davern. "It's just going to be more reflective of our town tax."