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October 6, 2016 - 10:33am

UPDATED: Possible big drop in county tax rate could lower your tax bill for 2017, or maybe not

posted by Howard B. Owens in news, property taxes, genesee county.

The county is looking at a 2017 budget that will reduce the county's tax rate by 23 cents per thousand of assessed value, but that won't necessarily be good news for all local property owners.

What each property owner ends up paying in property taxes will depend on any changes in their individual assessed value.

If your assessed value went up, depending on the size of the increase, the reduction in tax rate could hold your county tax bill even with 2016, unless your assessment increased significantly, then your overall county tax bill could increase. If you're assessed value stayed the same or went down, your county tax bill could decrease.

The county's budget is still in an early stage draft form, but County Manager Jay Gsell told legislators yesterday that what they're looking at is a possible tax rate of $9.63 up to $9.69, and even that range is subject to change as more numbers come in.

Overall, the total assessed value of all properties in Genesee County increased by $96 million. Some of that increase relates to assessors deciding some properties are now worth more money; some of it is due to new construction and some to temporary tax exemptions, such as PILOTs granted by GCEDC, expiring.

Under the state's complex property tax cap formula, the county is limited in how much of an increase in assessed value it can capture in revenue.

Roughly speaking, based on currently available calculations, the county probably can't go with a tax rate higher than $9.69.

The current rate is $9.86 per thousand.

A rate of $9.63 to $9.69 also fits with Gsell's goal of holding county spending for 2017 pretty much on par with 2016.

The instructions to department managers has been to hold the line on spending, Gsell said.

One of the big unknowns for the county as it tries to map out expenses for 2017 is the status of the Genesee County Nursing Home. The property has been sold, but the deal can't close until the State Health Department approves a certificate of need for one wing of the home for the new owner. There seems to be little progress with the state on that front and legislators are getting antsy about the lack of resolution. The unresolved issue may require legislators to budget for that expense in 2017.

UPDATE 2:30 p.m.: The following is the result of a discussion via e-mail today with Kevin Andrews, the deputy county treasurer.

The total assessed value of all properties in Genesee County has increased by $160 million. The revised number for how much of that is taxable by the county is now about $80 million.

As for the $80 million in increased assessed value, that is because of various exemptions, such as PILOTs, but also nonprofits and government-owned property are tax exempt, so there are other programs that property owners can apply for that award tax exemptions. These include a veterans exemption for homeowners, an exemption available to farms in some circumstances, and one for seniors below certain income levels, and various municipal exemptions.

The tax rate for some residents is also affected by a state formula for equalization of rates in different towns. If a town's assessments are below market rate, the county rate is adjusted accordingly.

On that point, Andrews said, "It is tough to say for sure what the tax impact will be in those towns without looking into those in a little more detail, but my guess would be that the equalization rate didn’t go down by too much, so they probably will not see an increase in taxes in those towns with a lower tax rate (unless you are a property owner whose assessment went up due to, say, new construction), but that is just a guess."

These figures are also still subject to change.

Approximately 26 percent of the properties in the county had some sort of increase in assessed value. About $14 million of the increased assessed value is because of new construction and improvements, less losses on demolition or destruction of property (fires, etc.) and properties moving from profit to nonprofit status.

About $146,000 of the increase in assessed value is the result of market-rate adjustments.

Because of updates on numbers, Andrews now estimates that stay-even tax rate is about $9.66, or $9.67.

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