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Theobald breaks down tax bills

Recently, the media has paid a great deal of attention to the 2011 county/town tax bills that residents should receive in the mail shortly. The tax bills are much too complicated. This is especially true in the town of Manlius, where there is town government and three village governments (Minoa, Manlius and Fayetteville).

The Manlius taxpayer with a home valued at $100k who does not live in a village will see an overall tax increase of approximately $96.17. Of that, $13.33 or 14 percent is directly related to the tax the town of Manlius assesses for such services as police service, plowing your roads, issuing permits/licenses (i.e., hunting, dog, marriage, handicapped parking, etc), assessing property, running recreation programs and enforcing our zoning code. The other 84 percent is an increase related to the county budget, which was passed in October after a battle between the county legislature and the county executive over sales tax distribution.

While any tax increase is too much, the tax increase for Manlius residents compared to other towns was much lower. Wisely, the town of Manlius never took sales tax money from the county to spend on the services we offer. It has always applied the sales tax as a credit to the county tax ("Mandated Services" on your tax bill). Unfortunately, last year the county revised the sales tax agreement, and, as a result, the credit that had been previously applied has been lost. This is one of the reasons why your county tax has gone up so much, while your town of Manlius tax has stayed relatively flat.

The town board continues to look at every area of spending and has made significant progress in holding spending down while at the same time building our fund balance. Over the past eight years, the cumulative average growth in the tax rate has been under 2 percent, while our fund balance has remained stable. While the economic challenges we have faced have been significant, we have weathered them without significant tax increases or reductions in services. It looks like future years are going to be just as difficult, but through prudent budgeting and with an eye toward providing more efficient government, I'm confident the town board will meet these challenges.

It's time to stop the finger pointing between all levels of government and recognize that our problem is not that we don't have enough revenue, it's that we need to control spending.

If you have any questions or concerns please do not hesitate to contact my office at 637-3521 or email at etheobald@townofmanlius.org.

Ed Theobald is the town of Manlius supervisor.

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