Schenectady County

Taxpayers may not see smaller bill

The county tax rate is going down, but the jury is still out on whether city taxpayers will actually

The county tax rate is going down, but the jury is still out on whether city taxpayers will actually see a smaller bill.

Since most property owners’ assessments were changed in this year’s reassessment, no one is quite sure how the 2010 taxes will fall. Those whose assessments went up a small amount will see a savings in taxes.

But for those whose assessments went up dramatically, the lower rate may not be enough to prevent a higher bill.

The county Legislature set the tax rate Monday after some city legislators acknowledged they don’t know whether the new rate will help as much as they hoped it would.

“We were successful at the county in reducing the full value tax levy by 2 percent,” said Legislator Gary Hughes. “That was a significant accomplishment, given the rising costs we face.”

Earlier in the day, he had for a short time believed the tax rate reduction would lead to a significant tax break for most residents. But by the time he voted Monday night, the numbers were far less clear.

“Whether or not this translates into a savings for an individual homeowner depends entirely on their reassessed property value,” he said.

City Council members were equally uncertain when they set the city tax rate. They built a budget with no tax increase, yet acknowledged that some residents would still see a higher bill because of their new assessment. In particular, owners who saw their property increase in value by more than 30 percent are likely to pay more city taxes in 2010.

For those owners, the county’s rate decrease may not be enough to overcome the vast increase in property assessment, forcing them to pay more in county taxes too.

The same may also be true for those with less dramatic increases. Officials aren’t even sure whether the majority of city taxpayers will see a decrease in their county tax bill.

The county tax rate for the city will be $6.53 per $1,000 of assessed value, down from the current rate of $10.41 per $1,000. A home assessed at $86,000, for example, will pay $561.58 in county taxes next year.

To determine the tax bill, owners should divide their assessment by 1,000 and then multiply that figure by the tax rate. They can then compare it to last year’s bill to determine whether their costs are going down.

In other parts of the county, where assessments have not changed significantly, the average homeowner will pay slightly less in taxes.

The tax rates are:

u Duanesburg: $22.68 per $1,000;

u Glenville: $7.08.

u Niskayuna: $5.97.

u Princetown: $20.60.

u Rotterdam: $6.48.

u Schenectady: $6.53.

Bills go out after Jan. 1.

The county Legislature in September adopted a $288 million budget that trimmed the property tax levy by 2.13 percent. The tax levy for 2010 is $65 million, a 2.1 percent decrease from the current levy of $66 million. The levy was $61 million in 2008, $58 million in 2007, $58 million in 2006 and $59 million in 2005.

County officials said the dramatic decline in the city’s 2010 tax rate is primarily a reflection of the city’s assessed value, which nearly doubled when the city went to 100 percent valuation this spring.

The city’s assessed value increased by $1 billion, to $2.4 billion. The $2.4 billion represents 25 percent of the county’s total assessed value of $9.4 billion.

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