VESTAL, NY (WSKG) — A recent report found that the Binghamton metro area had the highest property taxes in the country in relation to home values.
The data centered around areas with a population of at least 200,000.
Binghamton wasn’t the only upstate metro area that made the list released by ATTOM Data Solutions earlier this month. The company analyzes real estate data across the country. Syracuse and Rochester rounded out the top three.
Jack Little is an accounting professor at Cornell University. Cornell is a WSKG underwriter.
Little’s not surprised by the data. He points to the population decline the Binghamton area has seen over the last few decades. That’s made homes generally more affordable. Meanwhile, municipalities continue to grapple with the cost of running a local government and rely on property taxes to do so.
“You have to look at New York State, perhaps, and say why does it cost more money in New York State to operate a government,” Little said. “I think we have a high-tax state because we have a high cost of government.”
The findings come the same month as New York made the property tax cap permanent. That means municipalities and schools can only raise property taxes by two-percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower.
Amy Little, Jack’s wife, owns Cayuga Appraisals, a real estate appraisal company. She said many upstate areas have property that is either non-taxable or part of a PILOT program – payment in lieu of taxes.
That dilutes the the amount of taxable property for a local government, but Little said those programs aren’t necessarily a bad thing for a local economy.
“I think the real key is are those properties being utilized? Or are they adding to the overall vacancy or deterioration?” she said.
Little used Cornell as an example. As a university, it has property off the tax rolls in Ithaca, but she say the economy in the Ithaca area would not be as robust without it.