December 24, 2008


Report: Taxes in county among nation’s highest

Tax Foundation finds taxes seventh highest in county among 1,800 counties nationwide

Staff reporter

A new study found Cortland County homeowners paid 2.7 percent of their home value in property taxes, the seventh highest percentage of the 1,817 counties sampled in the nation. There are 3,141 counties or county equivalents in the United States, including the District of Columbia.
The U.S. average homeowner pays 1 percent of their home value in property taxes, according to a report released recently by the Tax Foundation.
The Washington-based research group examined median property tax bills and home prices between 2005 and 2007 for 1,817 counties across the country.
In Cortland County, the report says the average home price was approximately $81,900 and residents paid about 2.7 percent of their property value in property tax bills.
Municipal and county tax rates vary for each town and village in Cortland County, and school tax rates also vary by district.
Of the 25 counties with highest percentage of home value paid in taxes, 22 are in New York state.
Homeowners in Orleans County in western New York paid 3 percent of their home value in taxes each year, the highest percentage of any of the counties studied by the Tax Foundation.
Onondaga County had the 13th highest percentage, and Tompkins County ranked 32rd.
Gerald Prante, an economic researcher who worked on the report, said the organization has written similar reports but never included counties with fewer than 65,000 people.
With lower housing prices, property owners in Central New York are forced to pay a higher percentage of their property value in taxes, Prante said, whereas many counties around New York City have higher property values, which allows them to collect more funds by levying taxes on a smaller percentage of property value.
Bill Cinquanti, the county’s director of real property tax services, said the state also mandates more than half of county programs, such as the health department and his office, without providing any funding.
School districts also experienced dramatic increases in state-mandated pension contributions and health insurance premiums for employees, said city Superintendent of Schools Larry Spring.
Spring added the school district experienced a 7 percent increase in health insurance premiums this year, though the district faced double digit premium hikes a few years ago.
“Central New York is a pretty funny place,” Spring added. “There are pockets of wealth and poverty, and there are lots of rural communities that don’t have a large tax base.”


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