Property value increase keeps tax rate down

Gwen Chamberlain

Yates County Treasurer/Budget Officer Nonie Flynn says an increase in the value of property in the county, and a “modest” 1.4 percent increase in the tax levy will result in a 2.61 percent reduction in the property tax rate for the proposed 2016 county budget.

“Because of the modest increase in the tax levy and a robust 4.19 percent increase in the value of taxable property in the county, the proposed 2016 property tax rate will decline to $6.72 per $1,000 of assessed value,” she wrote in the budget narrative that accompanies the proposed spending plan.

The proposed budget prepared by Flynn calls for a 3 percent reduction in total spending, a corresponding 3 percent reduction in revenue, and a 1.4 percent increase in the property tax levy, which comes in under the allowable tax cap by just $1,966.

Legislators and department heads will review the plan during budget workshop sessions planned for Oct. 26 and 27 in the legislative chambers. During the workshops, they will discuss each area in detail.

The proposed budget includes:

• Salary increases for CSEA (3 percent) and non-union (2 percent) employees

• Capital Investments totaling nearly $3 million which includes highway equipment, phone system replacement, road and bridge improvements/replacements, computer capital plan and vehicle replacement and debt service totaling $1.7 million (communications, county office building, court house and Horizon Park)

• Mandated net expenses for Medicaid, retirement, community college, social services programs, education of handicapped children, probation, indigent defense, workers’ compensation and early intervention totaling $10 million.

Sales Tax Revenue

The budget projection assumes the county will collect $11 million in sales tax revenues, an increase of the $10.8 million projected in the 2015 budget.

After receiving the two October monthly payments, the total sales tax collected for the year stands at $8.17 million, slightly more than in 2014.

Flynn is predicting the final sales tax revenue total for 2015 will be $11 million, and she’s using that figure for the proposed 2016 budget as well.

She says her prediction is based on “the uncertain economic forecast, the continued low price of fuel and since sales tax has been an extremely unpredictable revenue stream this past year.”

But the second October payment in 2015 was nearly $150,000 lower than the corresponding 2014 payment and $22,585 lower than the corresponding 2013 payment.

Following a lively discussion at the 2015 budget hearing last November, legislators agreed to increase the amount anticipated from sales tax revenues by $200,000 over 2014 to $10.8 million. But an amendment to the motion requires that the additional revenue must be directed to the general fund, and not used to decrease the 2015 property tax levy.

In 2013, the county took in over $410,000 in additional sales tax, and in 2014, the county took in more than $316,000 in sales taxes over the projected figure. Those funds were added to the general fund.

The 2014 budget anticipated $10.3 million in sales tax revenue, and after receiving the first of two October monthly payments, the total sales tax collected for the year was $7.2 million.