Consumer Alert: Gates and Chili residents get erroneous tax bills. Here’s what happens now

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – This consumer alert takes a look at a big mistake on the tax bills of residents of Gates and about 1100 Chili residents. To understand the mistake, you have to understand the district boundaries.  The Gates Fire District is all of Gates and about 1100 homes in the northeastern section of Chili. Those were the bills with the math mistake.     

There’s a big difference in the fire departments that cover the Gates Chili area.  The Chili Fire Protection District is a volunteer fire department governed by the town board.  The Gates Fire District is governed by five elected commissioners.  And the key difference is that the Gates fire district is largely a paid fire department.

And that means more overhead.  So homeowners in the Gates Fire District pay more in taxes. So that means those 1100 homeowners in Chili are paying more as well. The Fire District boundary lines even divide some Chili streets.  So depending on which side of the street you live on, your bill for fire services could be five times that of your neighbor.

Pixley road is a great example. It’s split right down the middle. All the houses that are odd numbered are in the Chili district. All the houses that are even numbered are in the Gates district. So on a $200,000 house, you’re paying $268 if you’re in the Chili Fire District.  But the homes across the street are in the Gates Fire District, which means the bill for the fire department on a $200,000 house is $1,188 dollars.”

Another thorn in the side of those Gates Fire District residents is the fact their fire taxes increased 10.5 percent this year, and the first tax bills that went out to homeowners were wrong.

“When the initial bill was sent out, it was sent out with the wrong tax levy,” David Dunning, the Chili Town Supervisor explained.

The first bill showed a tax levy of $4.96 for every thousand dollars of your home’s assessed value.

“The corrected bill will be approximately $5.94,” said Dunning.

That means the levy on your incorrect tax bill is almost one dollar too low. So let’s use a $200,000 home as an example.  If the first levy was a dollar too low, your corrected tax bill will be $200 higher. Following the vote of the county legislature on the issuance of the corrected bills, you should get your new bill in about two weeks.

But as a consumer investigator, you know I was really interested in another question: Why are Gates Fire District taxes going up by 10 percent this year?  The Gates assistant fire chief told me he forwarded that question to the chair and treasurer of the board of commissioners.  And late Tuesday afternoon, Gates Fire District Treasurer Brittany Gould wrote, “I was forwarded your questions regarding the Gates Fire District budget.  We had an increase from 2022 to 2023 of 10.5 percent.   The increase was needed to support our fire district 2023 operation expenditures, which were reviewed and approved during our budget process.