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April 21, 2022 - 3:05pm

County officials to meet with Darien Town Board over what they see as a Medicaid tax 'misunderstanding'

posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, County Legislature, Darien, Medicaid.

Genesee County Manager Matt Landers and Legislature Chair Rochelle Stein are prepared to meet with the Darien Town Board over what they say is a “misunderstanding” about the practice of including the Medicaid portion of the tax rate on the annual county tax bill.

The situation was brought to the legislature’s attention via a letter dated April 7 from the Darien Town Board on behalf of a longtime Darien Center resident who objected to having to pay $2.90 per thousand of his assessed property value toward the county’s state-mandated Medicaid costs.

The resident wrote to the town board, bemoaning the fact that he was charged $782.14 in taxes for Medicaid, this coming on top of the $340 per month that he and his wife already have deducted from their Social Security checks for Medicare.

In the letter, he suggested that instead of taxing property owners “for other persons’ Medicaid,” the county could raise the sales tax rate slightly from the current 8 percent (of which 4 percent stays in the county) to cover the cost.

The town board, in turn, drafted its letter – supporting the resident’s viewpoint.

“As most County Taxpayers, he (the resident) and his wife do not use the programs offered such as HEAP, SNAP, free medical insurance, rent subsidy, over-the-county general use cards, etc.,” the letter states. “(As the expense is applied to property owners only), this burden is not shared equally by all county residents.”

The town board’s letter indicates a sales tax increase from 4 to 4 ½ percent would generate approximately $3.1 million per year “and these funds would be dedicated to stabilizing the Medicaid tax bill.”

At Wednesday’s Ways & Means Committee meeting, Landers and the legislature addressed the resident’s concerns and the Darien Town Board’s letter and accompanying resolution that authorized mailing it to county officials.

Landers noted that the county has broken out the Medicaid share of the tax rate on its annual bill since 2004 – doing so for informational purposes.

“The county tax bill is broken up into two lines,” Landers said. “It really is the total dollar amount – the whole levy in taxes and then we have a line broken out separately for the piece that is attributable to Medicaid. This was done purely as a message to taxpayers to understand how much of their property taxes are going towards Medicaid.”

He said that each year the county uses the same formula to figure out the mandated Medicaid expense.

Landers then pointed out that the county’s 2022 tax rate was flat (at $9.16 per $1,000, which includes the $2.90 per thousand Medicaid tax) “because you remember the rates have been dropping as assessments are going up.”

“I think it’s more or less just a misunderstanding of the way our tax bill is (displayed). It’s purely informational only,” he said, noting that the real property tax office could break the rate out “into a 100 different items but that would become more complex.”

Furthermore, the county doesn’t have the authority to raise the sales tax rate, Landers said.

Ways & Means Chair Marianne Clattenburg put it another way, stating, “The idea (of placing the Medicaid portion on the tax bill) was to show the taxpayers that if we didn't have this Medicaid mandate on our backs, this is what your taxes would be.”

“If they just look at that other number ($6.25 per $1,000 of assessed value), that's where they're getting their police, their EMS (Emergency Management Services), their roads, their bridges -- everything that we do in the county is that other item, and that Medicaid is a New York state mandate,” she explained.

Clattenburg acknowledged the “misconception” has grown from one citizen to the entire Darien Town Board, “which is under the impression that we have a control over that number, which we don't.”

After several more minutes on the topic, legislators decided to respond to the town board, starting with a letter and following that up by having Landers and Stein attend a board meeting in Darien in the near future.

Legislator Brooks Hawley agreed with that, saying, “I think it would be better if it was face-to-face instead of sending letters back and forth. It could be misconstrued.”

C. M. Barons
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End all real property-based taxes. Abandon the expensive bureaucracy that administers it. End the parasitic role of the banks and real estate industry. End the inequitable share assigned to property owners. Use the IT-201 income tax form like downstate does.

Howard B. Owens
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The property tax has got to be a barrier to homeownership, especially in an affordable community like Batavia where mortgages might have a monthly payment of $300 or $400 per month. Pretty much any working person can afford such a mortgage payment but with taxes tacked on the payment rises to $800 or $900 a month, which puts homeownership out of the reach of a lot of people.

david spaulding
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Howard, $300 or $400 per month mortgage ? We are in the year 2022 Not 1980. Unless maybe you're talking about one of those Amish sheds at Homedepot , there are No 3-4 hundred dollar per month houses out there.. Personally I have to save $600/ month for property/school taxes. I call it " Government Rent " as I do own my home. If I stick around long enough this place will be worth a million , according to tax people , and I will Not be able to afford to live here.

Howard B. Owens
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There are still homes available for $90K, so about $500 at current interest rates, so still affordable ... but taxes on that house will be at least $600 a month, for at least $1,100 monthly nut, so the point stands. Taxes put homeownership out of reach of a lot of hard-working people.

Mark Potwora
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Howard the Batavia School district tax is the worst...They seem to be unaccountable for controlling spending...Half of your property tax goes for the school tax ..You're right about this , If you make 50,000 a year and pay 5000 in property tax that's 10% of your income..this on top of payroll ,income and sales tax..Its so much worst for fixed income retirees...

Howard B. Owens
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Mark, I find the distinction between fixed income and wage earners these days somewhat off the mark, FWIW. Not every wage earner is getting a regular wage increase every year these days. For most people, tax increases mean less disposable income, which hurts the local economy. Following C.M.'s idea of ending property taxes to fund local government and institute an income tax would be more equitable. Property tax is a regressive tax.

tom hunt
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I read with interest all the comments posted. I agree mostly with what was said. One point which was not mention was the impact of the annual re-assessment on the total tax bill of the property owner.According to the presentation by our City of Batavia Assessor to the Batavia City Council. NYS determines the level of compliance to the 100% market value law. Batavia was at a -11 on the point system. Thus the City wide re-assessment this year. I have heard of cases where the reassessment determined an increase of 40% or more of increased market value of homes and property. This would put a crushing increase in the total annual tax bill. Theoretically the rate per thousand should drop accordingly. But in practice it never does. What is scary about the whole process, this will be an annual reassessment. As everybody knows the Real Estate market has gone crazy Nation wide. Unless the system of taxation changes, the home owner will see a ever increasing property tax bill. This will also cause n ever increasing rental fees as landlords try to keep up the the increase in property taxes.

C. M. Barons
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Howard B. Owens
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Homeownership is a family value. It helps build strong families by increasing financial stability.

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