Jan 03, 2011 Ned Campbell Uncategorized
Residents of Elbridge, Camillus and Marcellus receiving their property tax bills last week saw a hike in the bottom line.
The town of Elbridge (outside the villages) was hit the hardest with an increase of 33.33 percent, from $610 to $813 per assessed value of $100,000 – the result of a 78 percent increase in taxes labeled “state mandated costs.” Elbridge town property taxes decreased one percent.
Town officials point to Onondaga County government for the increase. The county chose to phase out by 2013 its sharing of millions of dollars in sales tax revenue with towns, which most towns had used to offset the county tax. Villages had taken the money in cash, so their county taxes will not increase.
County officials, however, point to the state.
“The reasoning for this is the ever increasing state mandates that the New York State Legislature passes down to counties for federal and state programs, that are not fully funded by the state and federal government, and that the county has no control over,” said county legislator Bob Warner, representing Van Buren, Elbridge and portions of Camilus, in a letter to the Observer. He sited a steep increase in costs for Medicaid, toward which the county now pays close to $100 million per year.
Town of Elbridge Supervisor Ken Bush said the line item labeled “state mandated costs” should be labeled as a county tax.
“It doesn’t say county tax on it,” Bush said. “We send the bills out in the towns and [residents] come [to town hall] to pay the bill. They look at the bottom line.”
In Camillus, combined taxes went up 15.5 percent, from $756 to $873 per $100,000. That factors in a local tax decrease of 5.74 percent, which officials noted as the second largest tax decrease in 20 years.
The town of Marcellus’s combined property tax rate increased 16.7 percent, factoring in a local tax decrease of 10 cents per $1,000 assessed value.
Onondaga County Legislature Chairman James Rhinehart commended the Marcellus Town Board at its December meeting for keeping its local property tax down. He said the increase in the county tax for Marcellus is not only due to increases in state mandated costs, but also the new tax formula, which assesses towns based on their property value rather than population.
The same applies for Elbridge and Camillus.
“We’re a poorer assessed town, so we’re getting less credit even,” Bush said.
Marcellus Town Supervisor Dan Ross said the town used to get around $1 million to offset county property taxes, but this year received around $300,000.
Some towns, like Clay and Van Buren, elected to take the remaining sales tax revenue in cash to use for town purposes. Marcellus chose to continue to use it as a credit against the county tax.
“I was concerned about the looming property tax cap,” Ross said, adding that he didn’t want to artificially lower the town tax with county sales tax revenue that wouldn’t be there in 2013.
“By formula, it’s going away,” he said.