Van Buren accepts max tax revenue

The town of Van Buren will take as much Onondaga County sales tax revenue as possible in 2011, the town board decided at its Aug. 3 meeting.

Van Buren plans to accept the maximum allowance of $1.04 million in 2011. The move is a break from the town's recent practice of turning down large chunks of county money in exchange for lower county property tax rates.

Previously, the town accepted $300,000 per year in county sales tax money, which it used to pay for drainage improvement and road resurfacing projects in Seneca Knolls. But Onondaga County plans to phase out sales tax allocations to municipalities after 2012, leaving the town board looking for money to help pay for future construction.

"With $300,000 spent annually, this will buy us about four years," said Claude Sykes, supervisor. "We're trying to stretch the money as far as we can. To just be cut off at the knees, it hurts."

Van Buren accepted only $300,000 of a possible $2.5 million from the county in 2010, Sykes said. The remainder of the available money was then used as a credit that helped secure Van Buren residents a lower county property tax rate, he said.

Therefore, taking the full sales tax allocation in 2011 could have ramifications on county taxes in Van Buren. The county's property tax rates in the town are already projected to increase 16.8 percent in 2011, from $3.16 per $1,000 to $3.69 per $1,000, Sykes said.

"When we leave the money with the county, that is used in their budget to offset what the county rate is," said Patricia Dickman, councilor. "They're already projecting the 16.7 percent rate with them keeping the money."

However, the county has not yet promised to use any of the 2011 sales tax allocation as a credit for property taxes in Van Buren, Sykes said. He also told the board it will have to find money for the road and drainage projects if it does not take the county money.

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