LITTLE VALLEY — Most years, few residents come out to comment on the tentative Cattaraugus County budget before it is passed two days before Thanksgiving.
More of the same is expected at Tuesday’s public hearing on the tentative $250.6 million county for 2020 at 4 p.m. in the County Legislature chambers on the third floor of the County Center.
While the county budget is up more than $7 million, the tax levy — the amount to be collected from property taxes — is down more than $1.1 million, almost 2%, to $55.4 million.
The full value tax rate is down 51 cents to $12.33 per $1,000, a drop of 3.9%. That is the largest tax cut in 20 years. In the 1995 budget, taxes were cut 8.5%.
Increased revenues — including a $91 million increase in assessed property value in the county — and the use of $3.8 million from the county fund balance, or surplus, are the reasons for the full value tax rate cut. Last year the county budget used $1.9 million less from surplus to lower the tax levy.
The county budget calls for using almost $4 million more from surplus to reduce the amount that will be borrowed for 2020 capital projects including roads and bridges and buildings and grounds projects.
The budget is more than $3.3 million below the state’s tax cap 2%.
If the tax rate for a municipality where properties are assessed at 100% is set to drop 3.99% why do town and city tax rates vary from a high of 3.63 % in the city of Salamanca to a low of minus 9.48% in Perrysburg.
It’s all due to the municipality’s equalization rate. The state-generated rate is based on home sales compared to the assessed value of the home. A few home sales in a town can skew the numbers upward. The trick is for towns and cities to keep their assessments current.
The county tax rate is increasing in only seven of the 32 owns and two cities: Ashford, 1.77%; Carrollton, 1.94%; Franklinville, 0.73%; Little Valley, 2.01%; Mansfield, 0.64%; Persia, 1.58% and Salamanca, 3.63%.
The City of Olean’s tax rate will be $13.12 per $1,000, down 0.93% and the town of Olean will be $17.13 , down 2.66%. Other area tentative town rates are: Allegany, $12.33, down 3.99%; Portville, $13.12, down 5.01%; Hinsdale, $13.55, down 3.99% and Carrollton, $15.22, down 1.94%.
Factored into the budget is funding for several public safety issues including: the need for additional public defender and assigned counsel funding, the impact of bail reform changes, the impact of discovery changes, the impact of the full implementation of Raise the Age legislation, the impact of marijuana reform and the full implementation of the state’s new sexual harassment laws and investigations.
In addition, a number of departments involved in health care services will continue to struggle with the need for employees, particularly licensed professionals. By making more of the positions full-time, county officials hope to be able to retain and hire more local health care workers.
For the third year in a row, the budget does not include revenue from casino revenues as the Seneca Nation and New York state have not settled their disagreement over revenue sharing payments to the state despite a 2-1 ruling from an arbitration panel.
The county used those funds — about $1 million — to make up for the loss of property taxes from tax-immune Seneca property owners in the part of the city of Salamanca on the Allegany Territory.
(Contact reporter Rick Miller at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter, @RMillerOTH)