The highest total property-tax rates in the region in 2017 were in four villages in Sullivan and Ulster counties, each of which had that second layer of local government – a village in addition to a town – and three of which had police departments to fund.

The lowest total rates that year were in the five Ulster County towns or parts of them that are in the Onteora School District, which is blessed with the presence of a New York City reservoir and state-owned forests that helps keep the school taxes low.

Those findings were based on data compiled and supplied by the Empire Center for Public Policy in Albany, which gathers and adds tax rates for every county, municipality and school district to show the combined toll of school and government taxes for any place in the state, adjusted to smooth differences in assessment levels and allow comparisons.

Empire Center’s data for Orange, Ulster and Sullivan counties show a huge range in effective tax rates, from $62.40 per $1,000 of home value in the Village of Liberty to $18.26 in Marbletown. It also showed a broad variation in home values, which meant that low-value places like Monticello often had high rates but still paid relatively low tax bills for a median-value house.

Liberty’s rate was the second highest in the state outside of New York City and Nassau County, behind only the Village of Sloan ($62.48) in Erie County, according to the Empire Center. And the top rates for the seven counties in the mid-Hudson region, which includes Orange, Ulster and Sullivan, were higher than those in all but one of nine sections of the state ranked by the Empire Center. Only western New York had comparable top rates.

“The rates don’t tell the whole story for a community, but they definitely tell part of it,” said Ken Girardin, a policy analyst for the Empire Center. “The tax rate is a function of how much taxable property exists and how much local governments are spending.”

Among the likely factors in Liberty’s leading rate were its high school and village taxes, low home values and a relatively small tax base.

Ellenville Mayor Jeff Kaplan, whose village had the second-highest combined rate for school, county and municipal taxes in the area, said Wednesday that supporting a police department as a small village was Ellenville’s biggest challenge. Policing costs, including salaries, health insurance and pensions, account for about half the village budget.

Other expenses, Kaplan said, have been “really pared down,” including reducing the village manager position to part-time and cutting the salary in half, to $40,000 from $80,000. He noted that his own salary is down to $3,400 from $4,000 from when he was first elected 18 years ago, and trustee salaries have dropped to $1,750 from $2,000.

Ellenville officials closely studied the possibility of dissolving the village to save money and leaving all municipal services to the Town of Wawarsing. But that would have meant eliminating the police department and relying on the sheriff’s deputies and state troopers for coverage, and they were leery of doing so with so densely populated an area as Ellenville, Kaplan said.

Kaplan also noted that village properties had long been over-taxed in comparison to properties elsewhere in Warwarsing, where the market value of homes had climbed while prices in Ellenville dropped. That was corrected through a townwide revaluation in 2016, which he said led to 7 percent reduction in the village tax rate last year and a 3 percent decrease this year.

At the other end of spectrum was Onteora School District, where New York City and New York state are the two biggest taxpayers and only 1,250 students are enrolled from a territory of more than 280 square miles.

“We are an incredibly unique school district,” Onteora Superintendent Victoria McLaren said.

Kiryas Joel had one of the region’s lowest effective tax rates, at $23.90 per $1,000 of assessed value. But its $406,100 median home value was one of the highest, putting the combined tax bill for a median home at $9,707, according to the Empire Center analysis.

© 2019 Times Herald-Record

You may also like

It’s never simple arithmetic with schools

Earlier this week, the Empire Center did its own report on the plummeting numbers when it comes to students. Overall, the 2019-20 enrollment is at its lowest levels in New York state in the last 30 years. Read More

New tenant protections likely for Capital Region

"You don't need to throw another regulatory obstacle on upstate New York," said E.J. McMahon, research director for the fiscally conservative Empire Center for Public Policy. Read More

School budgets: Find out how much your property taxes may increase

Schools, excluding the Big 5 districts of Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Yonkers and New York City, are proposing to increase taxes by $539 million despite an enrollment drop of 7,827 students, or a 0.5% decline, the Empire Center for State Policy, a fiscally conservative think tank said. Read More

Property taxes: These places pay the most in New York

The report, released by the Empire Center, a fiscally conservative think tank in Albany, found the effective tax rate for each region of the state. Calculating tax rates can be tricky, particularly in New York, where property owners face various taxes from multiple jurisdictions, including counties, towns and cities, as well as schools. Read More

Schenectady, Niskayuna top property tax lists for Capital Region

Schenectady’s property tax rate is $48.20 per $1,000 of home value, according to the Benchmarking New York report produced by the Empire Center, a fiscally conservative think tank based in Albany. Read More

Orleans County communities had five of the 10 highest tax rates in Finger Lakes for 2018, Empire Center report says

ALBANY — Orleans County communities have five of the top 10 highest tax rates for 2018, according to the Empire Center’s annual Benchmarking NY rankings, released this week. Read More

Bellone seeks SALT end-run, critics say issue settled

Although the IRS ruling hasn’t formally been made final yet and Bellone is promising a legal fight, E.J. McMahon of the Empire Center, an anti-tax think tank, said Suffolk taxpayers should be skeptical of putting money into the proposed charitable fund. “Any contribution to something like the Suffolk County fund is by no means guaranteed a tax deduction, so the message to taxpayers is don’t count on it,” McMahon said in an email. He called Bellone’s plan “nothing new — basically a Suffolk echo of Cuomo a year ago.” Read More

New York can do far more to lower property tax burden

A recent report by the Empire Center, an Albany-based, fiscally conservative think tank, projects if the state paid for the counties’ share of Medicaid costs, it would provide $8 billion in relief to county governments. That’s an average 27 percent reduction in county taxes, the USA Today Network’s Albany bureau reports. Read More

Subscribe

Sign up to receive updates about Empire Center research, news and events in your email.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Empire Center for Public Policy
30 South Pearl St.
Suite 1210
Albany, NY 12207

Phone: 518-434-3100
Fax: 518-434-3130
E-Mail: info@empirecenter.org

About

The Empire Center is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank located in Albany, New York. Our mission is to make New York a better place to live and work by promoting public policy reforms grounded in free-market principles, personal responsibility, and the ideals of effective and accountable government.