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property taxes

October 17, 2019 - 5:57pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in property taxes, news.

County legislators decided Wednesday to take a little more time on deciding whether to add information to property tax bills about how much of the county's property tax levy goes to funding state-mandated services.

The proposal brought to the Ways and Means Committee included line items for:

  • Social Services (including Medicaid)
  • Jail
  • Probation
  • Early Intervention
  • PHC Preschool
  • Mental Health
  • Public Defender
  • Assigned Counsel
  • Community College Tuition (excluding GCC sponsor share)
  • District Attorney Salary

Members of the committee were not entirely comfortable with the entire list, or even whether the information disclosure should be included on the tax bill at all, which only goes to property owners whose taxes are not paid by mortgage holders.

Those services eat up $23 million, or 76 percent of the county's tax levy. 

New York State mandated services -- services that the state requires the county to provide, or services the county would provide anyway but the state mandates that they be delivered in a specific way and at a specific cost -- are a long-standing complaint of local legislators.

The proposal, some legislators think, would help inform local taxpayers that the county's elected officials have little say in how their money is spent.

Legislator Andrew Young seemed the most uncomfortable with including the information at all on the tax bills.

"It just seems like whining to me," Young said. "It’s just like when I ask Steve Hawley (about Albany), ‘well, we’re stuck. It’s somebody else’s fault.’ What do we really get out of it? I’m not sure we’re really sharing any information that anybody understands, so we’re really just feeling better … I don’t know, it just feels like whining to me.”

Committee Chair Marianne Clattenburg thought it important that taxpayers understand how Albany constrains county government but wasn't sure the list entirely accomplished that goal since some of the items are functions of government the county would provide without state mandates, but perhaps not in the way or at the price tag the state dictates.

Young noted that the county also receives a lot of grant money for things like roads and bridges from the state; perhaps that evens out the mandated expenses.

"It’s really about control, right?" Young said. "Let’s just assume it’s even. It just means they get to control us."

Clattenburg responded, "It’s about what a local government decides to do and how to do it. That is really what most of the budget is. It’s about how New York City does things and we’re not New York City, so it’s really frustrating.”

She said she did think it's important for citizens to understand how the local government spends property tax revenue.

"Maybe if we kept (the list) to just mandates we really struggle with, Medicaid, early childhood, all these mandates associated with law enforcement, the district attorney, assigned council, and all of that -- the things that we are required to do, that if we could do them ourselves we might design a different way," Clattenburg said.

Legislators Shelly Stein and Gregg Torrey both spoke in favor of including information about mandates expenses on the tax bill.

Stein said she knows people who look at their tax bills and will be interested in information on the back about how the money is spent.

In order for the county to start including such information, local law will need to be amended. To do that, the Legislature would need to pass a resolution in November and hold a public hearing in December and vote for the change before January in order for the July tax bills to carry the information.

That isn't likely to happen since Ways and Means tabled the resolution Wednesday.

"I think we have to decide what’s going to be on the list and I think everybody needs input into that and I would like to hear every legislator, not just the committee," Clattenburg said.

October 6, 2016 - 10:33am
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.

September 2, 2014 - 12:57pm
posted by Dave Olsen in Genesee County Nursing Home, property taxes.

I am writing in response to The Daily News Editorial of August 26, 2014. The argument for privatization.  http://www.thedailynewsonline.com/opinion/article_a85e2ef8-2e63-11e4-a83...

The news of the County Legislature deciding to sell the County Nursing Home was neither shocking nor surprising. The people of Genesee County’s acceptance of the lackadaisical oversight for the home are what have been shocking to me, for a long time. You are correct editor, the county manager has been reporting losses for well over a decade and little has been done. It’s true that a few small contributing fires were put out, but the giant blazing bonfire of taxpayer money was ignored. The issue of the unsustainability of the County Home has been ignored and danced around for years. Assuming that the reason for non-action was a desire to try and keep the home, I tried to propose a solution that would be fiscally prudent, protect the employees and continue coverage for our least fortunate. That too was ignored. I admit I was probably too late, the die had been cast; the fate of the home had already been decided. These problems with government won’t change until voters vote for change. Period.

As a Libertarian and a supporter of free markets I firmly believe that a private operator will do a much better job than public management. It’d be hard for them to do much worse. The bar is pretty darn low in my opinion. I’m not criticizing the employees, I’m pointing a finger at the County Legislature which is and has been responsible for the correct operation of the home and has failed. Hopefully, a new operator will add stability and a more efficient manner to the excellent level of care which already exists. I’m glad to see provisions in the RFP to help make this so.

Now, let’s talk about the proceeds. Assuming the home sells for somewhere near to its assessed value of 10 million dollars added to the average of over 2 million spent each year to make up the operating deficit, spread over the next 10 years would come out to 3 million per year (2 x 10 = 20 million plus the original 10 divided by 10 years) plus interest to be spent on bridges, roads, updates to parks etc.

Yes I expect a tax break on property taxes. The County Home has been used as an excuse to raise taxes, so if it is sold then it should be used as a reason for lowering taxes. You can’t have it both ways. Any debt that the home has caused can be amortized out for more than 10 years, knocking the payments down significantly. The money to be used to pay it off could be found by identifying other areas in which glaring inefficiencies exist. I can make up a list, but not in this letter. Or commit funds to paying off the debt for say 3 years and then reduce the tax. The point is to have a plan that reduces the burden on taxpayers, not a plan to find somewhere else to spend our money.

If the home sells for less than it’s assumed (assessed) value, that fault lies as well with the legislature.  A sale or lease or some sort of graduated purchase should have been simmering on the back burner for at least the past year. Interested parties should have openly been invited to propose ideas for a mutually beneficial transition to private management. Instead we are now having a desperation fire sale. I hope we aren’t forced into a fire sale price. Lack of foresight and planning has brought us to this point. I hope this whole mess is well-remembered on Election Day 2015.

I am asking the County Legislature to show us a 10 year plan of how much they will be committing to roads, bridges and other projects. Spread equally amongst the municipalities of the county, so those highway superintendents can start planning the projects they want done. In addition local contractors can have an idea of what work will be let out over the next decade. This can help them decide on equipment purchases, property leases and employment levels.

This 10 year planning can be an economic engine that actually has wheels attached to it, rather than funding the EDC and the uncertainty that goes with their programs. Forecasting a tax decrease over the next 10 years would also be an economic accelerator as it puts more discretionary dollars in everyone’s pockets to spend. Lower tax rates spur housing sales and increase values. It also proves to the citizens of the county, that their government is working for us, not at us. It would signify that we are thought of as partners in government, not just serfs who pay what we are told to pay. Let’s make lemonade, turn a negative into a positive.

Frankly, I’d rather see all the money returned to the taxpayers through property tax reduction and allow the local municipalities to decide how much they want to spend on road maintenance and let the folks in those towns decide what they want to pay for. But I don’t see that happening immediately, so this is the next best thing.

Note that I am not mentioning a specific amount of money to be committed to either roads, bridges and projects or a specific tax decrease amount. Mr. Ferrando and Mr. Cianfrini have said they will be open and transparent. So be open and transparent.

I am also asking, Legislators that you provide this plan to us, the people of Genesee County before you accept a sale of the county home. I ask as well that there be a vote of the public to approve any sale.


David A. Olsen,

Basom, NY

Chair, Genesee County Libertarian Party

April 15, 2011 - 2:20pm
posted by Billie Owens in politics, stave hawley, property taxes.

This information comes from Assemblyman Steve Hawley's office.

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,I,C-Batavia) recently attended a press conference in support of immediate action on a property tax cap. The legislation was barred from a vote by the Assembly Majority, who passed rent regulations to control the cost of living in New York City instead.

“Time after time, poll after poll, the people of New York have expressed their overwhelming support for a property tax cap,” Hawley said. “As a representative for the people of Western New York, it is my responsibility to heed the call of my constituents, and I can hear them loud and clear. They are saying that we need to drive down the cost of living for all New Yorkers, not just those in the five boroughs of New York City.”

Hawley explained the litany of issues that coincide with the passage of a property tax cap, which would help families, businesses and local governments reduce the cost of living here in Western New York.

“The reason New York is in such desperate need of a property tax cap is because of the unfunded mandates handed down by state government to our villages, towns, cities, counties and school districts,” Hawley said.

“Mandate relief and property tax caps are not separate issues. They are inextricably linked and must be dealt with in tandem. It’s time to let our local governments run themselves without the onerous ‘Big Brother’ interference from the state Capitol that drives our property taxes in Western New York through the roof.”

Participants at the press conference included Brian Sampson, CEO of Unshackle Upstate, a bipartisan business coalition that awarded Hawley a perfect score on their 2010 Legislative Scorecard. Out of 212 state legislators, Hawley was one of only two that received a perfect score.

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