Property tax inequity in Ulster County
is focus of completed study
The Center for Research Regional Education and outreach (CRREO) has released the first of a planned series of discussion briefs on regional issues that takes a close look at property taxes in Ulster County, and, in the process, highlights valuable data that explain problems with the property tax that less frequently receive attention.
For the study, “Equity and the Property Tax Burden for Citizens in Ulster County,” the Center sought to understand why people with properties of similar value in Ulster County pay widely different levels of taxes. For example, property taxpayers living in the village of Ellenville and the Ellenville School District make almost three times the tax effort (how much property tax is paid per $1,000 of full value of real property) as property taxpayers living in the Town of Marbletown and the Onteora school district.
“This and similar inequities outlined in the report are as much a problem as the property tax level and the rate of tax increase,” said Gerald Benjamin, director of the CRREO and associate vice president for regional engagement.
The study showed that a variety of reasons cause these inequities:
• Too many overlapping taxing entities. Ulster County alone has 55 distinct tax burdens.
• Too many tax exempt properties. The areas in Ulster County with some of the highest tax burden, Kingston and the villages of Saugerties, Ellenville and New Paltz are also the areas with the highest value of exempt properties.
• Both places with concentrated populations (our three villages and Kingston) and very rural, geographically big places must make more tax effort than the average tax effort in the county.
• Places with the highest concentration of poor people require higher property tax efforts.
While the CRREO study does not offer a single solution to the problem of real property tax inequity, it does suggest many things should be put on the table for discussion by the residents of Ulster County, and the region:
• Some states have found ways to share property tax receipts among local jurisdictions.
• The NYS Office of Real Property Services is seeking to ensure that properties are assessed on the same basis.
• Lawmakers are discussing a “circuit breaker” to link a homeowner’s tax bill with their ability to pay.
One key aspect of CRREO’s mission is to bring key regional concerns to the attention of citizens and policymakers to support their informed discussion of the public policy problems facing the Hudson Valley. Quality information will help us to work together to develop our own, local solutions and advance the need for changes at the state level.
This is the first of several discussion papers on the property tax and other issues that we believe will help citizens and policymakers make informed decisions.
For more information about CRREO, visit www.newpaltz.edu/crreo.
Located in the heart of a dynamic college town, 90 minutes from metropolitan New York City, the State University of New York at New Paltz is a highly selective college of about 8,000 undergraduate and graduate students.
One of the most well-regarded public colleges in the nation, New Paltz delivers an extraordinary number of majors in Business, Liberal Arts, Sciences, Engineering, Fine and Performing Arts and Education.
New Paltz embraces its culture as a community where talented and independent minded people from around the world create close personal links with real scholars and artists who love to teach.