Van Buren officials have been criticized for their decision to take nearly $1 million in sales tax dollars next year in cash rather than using it to reduce residents' county property tax levy, which will result in a significant increase in residents' county tax bills - in the triple digits for many property owners.
Despite the town's ability to cut expenses in order to reduce town taxes for residents, the county portion of the tax bill counters town officials' efforts. When asked what his thoughts were on this issue, Supervisor Claude Sykes gave the following response:
"The county taxes have been a contentious issue this year in light of the county changing the sales tax formula. The county tax line is higher in Van Buren since the town board made the decision to take the sales tax money in cash to continue to fund drainage projects in the town. We felt it made more sense to take the sales tax money rather than borrowing money and paying the interest."
"In the past, the town had the option of cash or a credit against our constituent's county property tax line. With the change in the formula by the county, the option of a credit was no longer available to the town. The county now has complete say if there will be a credit or not. As it worked out, there was not much of a credit with only $3.1 million being applied against the county tax levy, the balance of the sales tax money going to balance the county budget."
"The town was very transparent that our taking the county sales tax money in cash would increase the county tax line. It is unfortunate that county officials are not as forthcoming to claim their +/-50% portion of the overall increase, trying to make people believe it is all the town's fault. It appears that if you do not subscribe to the theory that bigger government is better you are wrong."