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January 3, 2013

2013 tax-bill changes will vary in Otsego

By Joe Mahoney
Cooperstown Crier

---- — Like snowflakes, it seems that no two taxes are created equally.

While a new austerity budget enacted by Otsego County lawmakers for 2013 was aimed at holding down spending, taxpayers in some municipalities will see either bigger increases in their property taxes, a reduction or virtually no change at all.

For instance, in the city of Oneonta, according to figures supplied by Otsego County Treasurer Dan Crowell, property taxes for 2013 should be virtually flat. In a list showing the percentage of change of total county tax levy apportioned to the municipality as compared to the prior year, the city’s percentage dropped by 0.3 percent, or virtually no change.

However, in the town of New Lisbon, the percentage of change is plus 20 percent. That dramatic fluctuation is based on the fact the town recently had a long overdue revaluation of properties, Crowell explained.

The sticker shock that will likely accompany the tax bills that will soon be sent out by New Lisbon could have been avoided had the town not waited so long for a revaluation, he noted.

“Hopefully, people will look in their heart of hearts and realize they were not paying their fair share over the past decade or longer,” the treasurer said.

Hartwick taxpayers could also feel the taxman’s pinch. Crowell said its percentage of change of total county tax levy is up 9 percent. That appears to be the result of the state assigning it a lower equalization rate versus what it received in the prior year, he said.

The only other localities where the percentage of increase is greater than 4 percent are Edmeston (6.2 percent), Burlington (5.5 percent), Laurens (4.7 percent), Milford (4.7 percent), Cherry Valley (4.4 percent) and Morris (4.4 percent).

The towns with the biggest decreases in their respective percentage of change of the total county levy were Springfield (down 4.1 percent) and Middlefield (down 3 percent).

Several other towns will see very little change, with the town of Oneonta up just 0.9 percent, the town of Butternuts up 0.2 percent, Maryland down 0.7 percent and the town of Otsego down 0.2 percent.

Worcester’s percent of change was up 3 percent, while both Unadilla and Otego were up 2.5 percent and Richfield increased by 1.2 percent.

Roseboom saw a 2 percent increase, while Decatur gained 3.1 percent, Plainfield edged up by 1.7 percent, Exeter was up by 3.5 percent and Westford was close to flat with a 0.3 percent increase.