Apr 03, 2011 Ami Olson Uncategorized
Onondaga County Legislator William Meyer (R-3rd District) last week announced he would urge the legislature to support a bill to improve upon the system that allows taxpayers to pay school taxes in installments.
School districts in Onondaga County already have the option of allowing taxpayers to split their school tax bill into three installments, but the current system could be improved, said Meyer.
The current plan allows taxpayers to pay 50 percent of their entire school tax bill by the first deadline at the end of September, Meyer said, then 50 percent of the remainder is due by the end of October. The last installment is due by the end of November.
Under the current plan, tax receivers can only accept the entire amount of the first installment, and if the first installment isn’t paid in full by the deadline, the entire tax bill is sent to the county, Meyer said.
“If they can’t make the first payment, then they can’t do additional partial payments, because once they miss that full 50 percent down and they miss it by the date, they’re disallowed from payment plan,” he said.
In that case, the county will “act as the bank” and make the school district whole by fronting the school district the money the taxpayer failed to pay, but the district won’t see that money until the following April, Meyer said.
In the meantime, the taxpayer is charged interest, which goes back to the county for the costs of bookkeeping, he added.
Meyer’s proposal would formalize the county legislature’s support for the bill sponsored by Sen. John A. DeFrancisco’s in the Senate, which Meyer feels improves upon the existing partial payment plan.
The primary difference is that tax receivers would be allowed to accept less than the entire first installment, and the amount would go directly to the school district without the lengthy layover at the county level first, Meyer said.
Even if the taxpayer walks in with less than 50 percent of their tax bill, the school district will get whatever they can pay, Meyer said.
The county would take over the remainder of the unpaid bill, Meyer said.
Meyer said about nine of the 17 school districts in Onondaga County do not participate in the partial payment plan, so taxpayers in those districts do not have the installment option.
For residents living in the Syracuse City School District, school and city taxes are already on the same bill and paid in four installments throughout the year.
“I’ve heard that some districts didn’t want to do it because they figured they were going to get made whole by the county anyway,” Meyer said.
He said he hoped that districts would see that under his proposal, they would be better off.
“The bottom line is does this help high tax bills? No,” Meyer said. “But it is a tool to make it easier for taxpayers to pay the bill, it helps to get money to the districts in a timely manner.”
And school districts can still decide to opt in or out of the partial payment plan with a two-thirds vote of the school board, he said.
Meyer’s proposal is expected to go before the legislature at the April 5 legislative session.