Recent tax hike is result of assessments

Dear Editor,

Taxpayers in the Town of Nichols who live in the Owego-Apalachin Central School District are rightfully upset with the increase in their taxes.

But they are barking up the wrong tree when they blame the school district. The OACSD property tax levy (total collected) only went up 0.02 percent. Not 2 percent, 0.02 percent. The total tax increase across the entire district was only $2,427. The changes in taxes across the district are the result of other factors.

Factor number 1: The increase in Nichols was caused by any assessment changes made by the Town of Nichols, changes in the overall value of properties in Nichols due to additions or removal of properties, and by New York State’s determination of what percent of true value the assessed value is.

The school district spans several towns. Each town does its own property assessments. The town’s assessment methods result in assessed values being a percentage of true value. To make sure that people are paying their fair share, assessed values are adjusted to true value and taxes determined based on true value.

Example: Take two houses, each worth $100,000 but in neighboring towns. Town “A” assesses the house in its town at $25,000. Town “B” assesses the house in its town at $50,000. If taxes were collected based on assessed value the person in Town “B” would pay twice as much as the person in Town “A” even though they had houses of equal value. Doesn’t seem fair does it? So to make it fair, New York State determines an equalization rate to adjust the assessed value to true value. Then both pay the same amount on property of equal value. Seems fair that way doesn’t it.

Factor number 2: Because the school district spans several towns, the total true value of the various town’s properties is totaled into an overall district true value. Each town’s share is then determined by dividing its true value by the overall district true value.

As the true value in the various towns changes, the proportion of the true value assigned to each will change. Changes in the overall true value result from properties being added or removed from the tax rolls. The town of Nichols portion of the OACSD has 5.25 percent of the overall district value, Tioga 10.5 percent, Owego 83.3 percent, and Candor and Newark Valley the remainder.

Mitigating factor: Because the school district stayed within the tax levy limit, taxpayers will get a rebate from New York State. This rebate will be 1.46 percent of your tax bill OR the difference between last year’s bill and this year’s bill, whichever is greater. So for Nichols residents, the rebate check will cover your increase, meaning your actual cost will be no more than it was last year.

Summary: A change in assessments and equalization rate is what caused the impact in Nichols, and in other towns also. It was solely on the assessment and tax roll changes and the state’s determination of the adjustment necessary to equalize values.

It is important to note that this process affects your Tioga County property tax bills also.

And as you can see, it was not because of anything the school district did. No dirty play, lies, mismanagement, or miscalculation by the school district.


Richard E. Ives

Owego, N.Y.

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