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A Salina tax bill breakdown

By now, most Town of Salina residents have received their 2011 county/town property tax bill. Prior to the receipt of your bill and over the last few months, you have likely seen much discussion on the news and in the papers regarding the increase in this year's property taxes. Like many of you, I have followed these discussions closely. Unfortunately, the issue is rather complex, in that it involves decisions made by Onondaga County that have an effect on Salina taxpayers. Given all the factors, it has been difficult to gain a full understanding of what these changes mean, and how they affect us as individuals.

We have seen many numbers and percentages out there estimating the effect that the changes would have on our property tax bills. The recent assertion that there would be a 47% increase in property taxes in the town of Salina was correct, yet the calculations were drastically oversimplified. This calculation was based only on the first two lines of your property tax bill: State Mandated Costs and Town Tax. These two lines made up only about one-quarter of last year's total property tax bill, which you received in January 2010. This year, those two lines will make up approximately one-third of the total property tax bill. This increase will amount to just over $200 for a home assessed at $100,000.

Furthermore, the first line on your tax bill, labeled State Mandated Costs, will be where you notice the bulk of the increase. Last year's rate for this line item was $2.81 per thousand of assessed value. This year the rate has increased to $4.84 per thousand; an increase of more than 72%. This increase was a result of the change in the county's sales tax sharing plan and the 2011 county budget; both of which were proposed by the Onondaga County Executive and voted on and approved by the Onondaga County Legislature. Unfortunately, the Salina Town Board has no say in the county's budget or sales tax sharing agreement and, therefore, had no recourse to prevent the increase our residents will experience this year.

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