Local Supervisor worried his town won't be eligible for State Budget property tax cap

Updated: 04/02/2014 1:21 PM
Created: 04/01/2014 11:42 PM WHEC.com
By: Lynette Adams

Now that the new state budget has passed, you could be getting money back on your property taxes.

Sounds good, right?

But it's up to your local government to make sure you're eligible. The goal is to encourage towns and villages to save money by sharing services.

Here’s how it will work.

In the first year you'll be eligible for a rebate if your local government doesn't raise your property taxes by more than the 2 percent tax cap.

In the second year, your taxes have to stay within that cap and your officials have to come up with a plan to save money for the next 3 years.

We talked with one local town supervisor who says they've already been doing this and he is worried his residents won't get credit for that. 

Pittsford Supervisor, Bill Smith says for years the town, the village and the school district have shared services like assessment, code enforcement, fire marshal services, the salt barn, something they did on their own, and he says it works. Now he's concerned the state will view these efficiencies. 

“The town of Pittsford and other municipalities in Monroe County have been way ahead of the curve,” said Smith.

Smith says for the last decade, Pittsford has been doing what the governor is encouraging every municipality in the state to do, to find ways to share services and streamline government. But Smith says Pittsford is not alone. An example of this, is the Finger Lakes Health Insurance Trust, created by the town. It's a health consortium that Pittsford and 14 other municipalities participate in. Last year it paid off big.

“Members of the consortium, our increase on healthcare costs last year was 7 percent. Those outside of the consortium who were dependent on the community rate, their increase was 15 percent,” said Smith.

While Smith says he's glad the governor wants streamline government, he fears his town won't be eligible to take part in the incentives.

“The original proposal said there is no look back whatsoever. I understand that the way it was passed it provides for a look back, but we don't know how far and how long, and if it's not sufficient it’s going to have the effect of penalizing municipalities like ours that have been way ahead of the curve.”

That concerns some residents, like Susan Kruchten.

“As long as a government is streamlining and that's the goal of New York State than I don't think people should be penalized for that,” said Kruchten.

Smith questions if consolidation will save taxpayers in the long run, and says the bigger issue is the state level policies that mandate costs on school districts, counties and towns.

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