Cayuga County Takes Fulton to Court for Lower Tax Bill on Future CCC Building

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.


  1. The mayor says “it never ends”, exactly what us taxpayers in Fulton say about our tax bill increases. Central Fall, RI (pop. 19,000) filed for bankruptcy because it buried it problems for years and can’t raise taxes anymore, it’s the same course Fulton is on. We are already number one in the highest tax category in the state, where do we go from here, Mr. Mayor? You can “end” this by resigning office or withdrawing your reelection paperwork. Let someone in office that can reorganize, cut some of the sacred cows you have supported for many years and start us down the road to fiscal wellness. You have not been able to accomplish it!

  2. It’s time to enact a law requiring payments for fire, police and other city services from tax exempt properties. The home owners of Fulton have been shouldering too much of the tax burden for far too long.

  3. Nope. Just a weekend when we’re not around much to handle comments.

    But as a side note, you attack the city administration for tax increases. I believe that six of the last seven city budgets have had zero percent tax increases and the seventh had an increase of less than one percent. You could call the City Clerk/Chamberlain’s office for confirmation of that, but I believe that’s the case.

    Your overall tax bill has gone up because of increase in school and county taxes (not sure of the county increases — there could be some zeroes in there, but I don’t have information on that).

    And if the assessed value of your home went up, you’d pay more as well.

    But the rate the city charges taxpayers has barely budged in the last seven years, I believe. It’s Sunday, so I can’t check tonight but I will tomorrow and if it’s different from that, I’ll post it here.

  4. Fulton blackmailed Volney to get this property annexed into the City of Fulton so they could get their hands on the property and sales tax. When Walmart started talking about building in Granby, Fulton thought about doing another land grab until the County gave them a good stable tax deal (sales tax revenue) So now that the city is only going to get water and sewer (that’s what they would have got if they hadn’t ‘annexed’ it from Volney) they are crying about it. Karma is a funny thing. But I do think they should be paying something for fire and police after all they do get 1/3rd of their income from County property tax payers.

  5. I seem to remember a full assessment on homes that technically is not a rate increase but it sure showed up on our tax bills. The many homes the city owns should be auctioned off and then included on the tax rolls when they are in private hands again, that also keeps are taxes artificially high, those properties need to be rehabbed by the private sector. The tax base is aging they cannot keep paying these high taxes, wages are not going up, the city has not yet absorbed the Birdseye loss, so my point is the city cannot continue doing the same thing over and over until the mayor decides to retire. Next up our home values will continue to decline because we have the title of the highest taxes in NY! Thats how I see it.

  6. Jay — reassessment of property is (or should be) a regular and ongoing thing. Totally agree with you that if your assessment goes up, your tax bill is likely to go up. However, I’ve lived in my home in Fulton for almost a quarter of a century and my assessment has hardly budged. The losses of Nestle and Miller and lots of other companies kept assessments down by keeping sale prices of homes down.

    Honestly, I’d like to sell my home someday for more than I paid for it. I bought it for, I think, about $46,000 24 years ago. It’s assessed at $55,000 now. While that might seem like a decent gain, it’s not even close to the rate of inflation. I plugged my purchase price into an inflation calculator, which told me that in 2010, given inflation, my home should be worth more than $90,000.

    My home’s value has only gone up 19% over 24 years — less than 1% a year.

    It’s one reason why the tax RATE is high…because the VALUE of taxable property is relatively low. (Fulton’s overall rate is the highest in the state, when school and county taxes are folded in. But even if you take them out, Fulton’s rate is still top-10. But Fultonians pay about an average amount in city taxes because property values are so low.)

    I certainly understand the frustration with increasing taxes. I pay ’em, too, and they’re no fun.

    Thanks for the discussion!

    And a side note to the commenter called “Lifelong Fulton Resident”: I can’t post your comment because it contains negative comments about a specific person or persons. That breaks our one rule here — disagree but be civil. But you had some interesting things to say, so if you can comment again without going negative about a specific person, I would love to post it. Thanks!

  7. You couldn’t post my comment becasue it said negative things about a specific person?????????? Daily people are on her blasting our current Mayor and in my post I did not even say a name just examples, interesting you knew who I was talking about. What a JOKE#!!

  8. Lifelong: You clearly referred to “letting someone into office” in place of Woodward. That narrows it down to two specific people.

    And the criticisms posted here of Mayor Woodward were about his performance as Mayor, not his performance as a person. I have deleted many a comment that has criticized specific people in a personal manner.

    Again, the rule is simple: Criticize the play, not the player, and keep it civil. Commenters who use their real names get a little leeway because they’e willing to use their real names. Like it or not, we run this comment section like it was a party in our living room. I wouldn’t let people get into personal criticism of other people in the same room. is the place to go if you want to say anything you want about anybody else, anonymously, and I invite you to take those kinds of comments there.

    However, you did make good points and I’m hoping you’ll add them to this conversation.

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