County Mortgage Tax Increase Tabled, But Still Discussed

OSWEGO, NY – A proposed $.25 per $100 county mortgage tax increase never made it to the floor of the Oswego County Legislature on Tuesday afternoon. It was withdrawn from the legislators’ agenda.

Proponents of the resolution, which was passed at the committee level in late December, say it could generate upwards of $840,000 for the county.

However, the plan has been met with strong opposition from local realtors.

Faye Beckwith, a long-time realtor from Hannibal, told the legislators, “I speak on behalf of all of your constituents.”

She acknowledged all the hard work legislators do during the budget process. But, the county mortgage tax increase would be counterproductive, she said.

“We feel that it is OK to look for sources of revenue and we commend you for bringing this idea to the floor for discussion. We also believe that it is OK to change your mind and we’re pleased that you’ve decided to do that today,” she said.

The Oswego County real estate market has not recovered from the recession, as evidenced by the 2014 statistics, Beckwith told the legislature.

The number of sales is up. However, the average sales price in Oswego County is down, “and it is down considerably,” she explained. “Some of our sales are still coming out of the foreclosure market. So, a lot of those sales we’re reporting are foreclosure activity.”

She said what the county was thinking about implementing was a regressive tax, adding that “it is unfair to those who can least afford it.”

It will definitely have a negative impact on the housing market in the county, she added.

Twenty-five cents per 100 sounds like a small amount of money, she said.

“Many of our buyers are scraping for every last penny to close,” she said. “We already have the distinction of having the highest closing costs in the nation. It seems totally inappropriate to add another nail in the coffin.”

The county should be encouraging home ownership and not creating obstacles, she said.

For an alternative, she suggested using the bed tax to generate more revenue.

Connie Ryan of Century 21 and president of the Oswego County Board of Realtors said she deal with many homebuyers that work at the nuclear plants. They are opting to purchase homes in Onondaga County, she noted.

“I try to get them to stay in our area. Our real estate market is still in the midst of recovery and I don’t think we need to do anything to harm it further,” she said.

According to statistics, the average sales price of a home in Oswego County in November was $80,000. In Onondaga Count it was $138,000.

The number of closed sales in Oswego County was 51 as compared with 325 in Onondaga County.

The number of homes on the market was 2,252 in Oswego County and more than 7,000 in Onondaga County.

Kevin Gardner, newly-reappointed chair of the legislature, said the proposal would be heading back to the committee level for further discussion.

It could return to the floor of the legislature later this spring.