NY Comptroller Calls Out Communities For Approaching Tax Limit

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VESTAL, NY (WSKG) – Counties, cities and villages across New York are approaching the state’s Constitutional Tax Limit.

The CTL is the amount a municipality can tax on real estate. It’s a measurement of a community’s financial health.

Bret Jaspers / WSKG Public Media

Binghamton Mayor Rich David. (Bret Jaspers/WSKG)

The cities of Binghamton and Elmira along with Cortland County are among the communities that New York Comptroller Tom DiNapoli said are near the limit.

20 municipalities have used over 80 percent of their CTL. That’s double to total in 2012.

Cortland County has used 94.36 percent. The issue has been growing for more than a decade. Officials point to unfunded mandates and a stagnant tax base. “It puts the county in a real ponderous position in terms of trying to figure out how do we hold taxes steady or minimize the impact to our already overburdened taxpayers,” said Cortland Legislative Clerk Eric Mulvihill.

Population decline and a loss of business is a common problem for many upstate counties, but Cortland is one of just two counties on the comptroller’s list. Mulvihill said one reason is the amount of tax exempt property, especially in Agriculture.

“Agriculture is still one of our number-one industries here, he said. “And that’s not to fault farmers, but simply that impacts your tax base and that impacts the ability to generate revenue.”

Elsewhere, Elmira used just over 80.60 percent of its constitutional tax limit, Binghamton spent nearly 89.08 percent. DiNapoli said, in general, cities tend to use more than counties and villages.

In a statement, Binghamton Mayor Rich David said many of the tax issues the city faces date back from before his administration. “There is no single financial goal more important than reducing property taxes,” he said. “We must continue to do it in a responsible and sustainable way. I will again make tax relief a focus of Binghamton’s 2020 budget.”