Niagara Gazette

Local News

May 9, 2013

Taxing situation in Niagara-Wheatfield

Niagara Gazette — If the proposed 2013-14 Niagara-Wheatfield district budget is approved by voters at the annual election May 21, taxes will increase. For everyone.

The budget proposes a 5.91 percent increase to the district tax levy, which would increase the total dollar amount to be collected to $30.4 million. It's a figure the school board bills Niagara County, guaranteed to the district.

But figuring out how the increase affects households and businesses in the community is tricky, as assessment values and equalization rates won't be finalized until the end of the summer.

For instance, Town of Niagara homeowners would be facing a tax rate of $29.27 per $1,000 assessed value. By contrast, the same residents paid $27.64 per $1,000 value this year. The difference between the two comes out to an average increase of $114.33 on a $100,000 house next year, once the $30,000 basic STAR exemption is factored in.

By comparison, the Town of Cambria residents within the district would pay a tax rate of $17.11 per $1,000 value. Increasing from a current rate of $16.15 per $1,000 value, the change results in an average cost increase of $66.82 on a $100,000 house, again factoring in the basic STAR exemption.

The difference between the two stems from differing equalization rates, according to the district's interim business manager, Richard Hitzges. Set by New York State, the equalization rate attempts to even the playing field from town to town since some don't assess property at what the state believes to be 100 percent value, Hitzges said.

Cambria, he said, is the only town among the four within the school district to assess its property at 100 percent value, meaning property is considered to be assessed at its true value.

Wheatfield residents, meanwhile, will see taxes increase an average of $96.53 heading into 2013-14, with a tax rate set at $24.71 per $1,000. Lewiston residents similarly will pay $20.86 per $1,000 assessed value, coming out to an average increase of $81.48.

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