Cayuga County is asking a judge to lower the value of the future Cayuga Community College campus in Fulton’s former P&C store, a move that could cut its $100,000 tax bill in half or more.
The county has filed what is called a tax certiorari petition asking a judge to lower the assessed value of the building from $2 million to $700,000., according to a story in The Citizen newspaper of Auburn and confirmed by Fulton Mayor Ron Woodward.
The county bought the store for $950,000 to provide a new home for its fast-growing Cayuga Community College campus.
According to Oswego County’s real property tax database, the 2010 tax bill on 11 River Glen Plaza, the address of the store, was $52.746.20 in city and county taxes and $50,388.17 in school and library district taxes.
A cut in the assessed value of the property to $700,000 would lower the total tax bill to approximately $36,000, a drop of more than $60,000.
“It never ends,” sighed Woodward over this latest effort to cut the tax bill for a large property.
The city is already planning for the effects of a massive reduction in taxes on the privately-owned hydropower stations along the Oswego River in the city. A state agency gave the stations’ owner a huge reduction in the assessed value of the stations.
A $60,000 drop doesn’t sound like a big amount in a $15 million city budget, but only $5.6 million of the city’s budget revenues comes from property taxes, and there are only about 5,000 taxpaying properties in the city to make up the loss. (See the 2011 city budget here.)
If the tax certiorari proceeding is successful, it will cost each property in the city an average of $12 to make up the loss.
And the city has to spend money to fight the proceeding in court, so the cost is even higher.
“You’re paying two ways,” Woodward said.
He expects a decision from the judge before the end of the year. That means that the city will have to give the county a refund on its 2011 taxes if the assessment is lowered.
Cayuga County is paying taxes on the property because it owns property outside of its boundaries.
Ultimately, the property — and eventually, the rest of River Glen Square and an adjacent parcel of land — will pay no taxes. The plan is to transfer ownership of the entire properties to a foundation controlled by Cayuga Community College.
That will make the properties tax exempt.
A college official told the Fulton Planning Commission recently that the property will not pay taxes.
The college is renting its current home on the city’s west side, so its landlord is paying taxes.
The number of tax-exempt properties in the city — nearly half of the total number of properties — is a sore subject with Woodward. The city must provide services to those properties but receives no tax revenue in return.
Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner recently struck a landmark deal with Syracuse University in which the university will make an annual payment to the city in recognition of the services it receives.
Fulton has taken its water, sewer and garbage charges out of the tax bill and bills them separately, but, like most municipalities, has no other mechanism for receiving compensation from non-profit property owners.