Saratoga County property taxes are going up for the second year in a row, as the 82,048 tax bills about to arrive in the mail will show.
Those who look closely will see a slightly different look to the bill, as well as a 1.5 percent average tax increase,
Starting in 2013, the county bill is broken onto two separate lines, to show that the majority of the bill — 98 percent, by the county’s calculation — is needed to pay state-mandated costs.
The bill in Ballston, for instance, will say that just under 3-cents per $1,000 is for the county’s voluntary spending, but state mandates account for another $2.37 per $1,000.
The state mandates county officials criticize range from providing uncompensated nursing home care to reimbursing community colleges that educate Saratoga County residents.
Under a “Truth in Taxation” law adopted this summer, a notice will also be included with the bills, explaining many of its costs are beyond the county’s control.
“I think the point we’re trying to make is that the great majority of the county tax bill is state mandates, costs that we have no control over,” said county board Chairman Thomas N. Wood III, R-Saratoga.
The goal, he said, is to educate residents, so that hopefully they will express their outrage over the mandates to state legislators.
Separately, state Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli warned in a report today that many local governments have nearly exhausted their resources in an effort to avoid severe fiscal stress.
“For the past five years, the financial trends in our municipalities and school districts have become of heightened concern,” DiNapoli said. “Years of decreasing, stagnant or slow economic growth have led local governments to cut vital services and tap their rainy day funds to balance budgets, a practice that is not sustainable in the long term.”
“That’s a frightening evaluation, and probably an accurate one,” Wood commented.
Saratoga County, which had healthy finances until recently, has drawn down millions of dollars in surplus funds and in 2013 is increasing property taxes by 1.5 percent, after a 3.5 percent increase in 2012.
The total amount collected from county landowners will be $51.6 million. The average tax rate per $1,000 assessed value is rising from $2.23 to $2.27, but in reality, rates vary significantly from community to community because of different ways in which they assess property. Communities also gain or lose value compared to each other every year, which also affects the rates.
These are the new tax rates:
• Ballston: County, $2.40, down from $2.46 per $1,000 in 2012. There are no townwide taxes, though most residents pay special district taxes for fire, ambulance, library, water, and other services.
• Charlton: County $3.65 per $1,000, up from $3.60. No townwide taxes, though all residents pay a local fire protection tax.
• Clifton Park: County $4.07, up from $3.99 per $1,000. No town general; highway, 19 cents; there are many special district taxes, from fire protection to park districts.
• Corinth: County, $2.43, up from $2.40. Town general, $1.52; highway, $1.70; special district taxes for fire protection, and in some areas for lighting and water.
• Day: County, $3.46, down from $3.48. No town general; highway, $2.06; also a fire protection tax.
• Edinburg: County, $4.16, unchanged from this year. No town general; highway, $1.07; fire protection tax.
• Galway: County, $4.26, up from $4.20. Town general, $1.09; highway, 33 cents; highway outside village, $1.13; fire protection district.
• Greenfield: County, $2.31, down from $2.36. No town general; highway, $1.48; fire protection district.
• Hadley: County, $3.06, down from $3.08. Town general, $2.23; highway, $3.25; fire, ambulance, and other special districts.
• Halfmoon: County, $3.80, up from $3.67. No town general or highway tax; special districts for fire, library, water and sewer.
• Malta: County, $2.36, up from $2.32. Town general, 1 cent; no highway; taxes for library, fire protection, sewer, lighting, and other special districts.
• Milton: County, $2.53, down from $22.56. Town general outside village, 49 cents; no highway; special districts for fire, ambulance, lighting, water and sewer.
• Moreau: County, $2.23 in South Glens Falls, down from $2.34; outside the village, $1.46, down from $1.95. Town general, 59 cents; no highway tax; special districts for fire, library, water, sewer and lighting.
• Northumberland: County, $2.51, up from $2.46. No town general; highway, $1.37; special districts for ambulance and fire protection.
• Providence: County, $11.51, down from $11.92. Town general, $4.78; highway, $16.00; fire protection. Providence has higher rates because, unlike other towns, it has never in recent times tried to assess properties at their full market value.
• Saratoga: County, $2.43, down from $3.71. Town general, $1.11; no highway; ambulance, fire, and other special districts. Rates dropped because the town conducted a reassessment, increasing the assessed values of properties.
• Stillwater: County, $2.55, up from $2.50. Town general, $1.07; highway outside village, $1.41; library, fire, ambulance, water, sewer, lighting and other special districts.
• Waterford: County, $7.05, up from $7.04. General, $11.69; special districts for fire, ambulance, and lighting.
• Wilton: County, $2.36, up from $2.31. No town general or highway; special districts for fire and ambulance.
Property owners in the cities of Saratoga Springs and Mechanicville are sent bills on a different schedule than town taxpayers. The county rate will be $2.96 in Saratoga Springs, up from $2.93, and $3.64 in Mechanicville, down from $3.66.
Taxpayers will have until the end of January to pay their bills to the tax collector in their respective towns before interest and penalties are imposed. The penalty is 1 percent in February, and 2 percent in March.