POSTED 10/17/2013If the property tax levy didn't increase, why did some people's tax bills go up?
For the 2013-14 school year, OESJ voters approved a budget that carried a local property tax levy – the total sum of taxes required to balance the budget – equal to the tax levies paid by Oppenheim-Ephratah and St. Johnsville taxpayers in 2012-13.
In other words, the merged district is not collecting any more tax revenue than the former two districts did the previous year. But some people’s tax bills went up and some went down. Here is why.
In order to spread the responsibility of paying school and county taxes as fairly as possible across the municipalities in a given tax jurisdiction, every year the New York State Office of Real Property Services (ORPS) calculates what are known as “equalization rates” for each town.
As their name implies, equalization rates attempt to “equalize” or compensate for differing assessment practices in each town and other factors. For instance, if one town’s assessments are more recent than another’s the equalization rate would help compensate for that.
The OESJ district is comprised of 10 towns, many of which assess property values at different levels. Some towns in the district assess property at full market value, or 100 percent of true value. Other municipalities have much lower levels of assessment. The ORPS equalization rate for each town takes these different levels of assessment into account and apportions taxes accordingly.
“The 2013-14 OESJ budget held the line on property taxes. Some taxpayers saw their bills go up, others saw them go down, but these changes are caused by state-set equalization rates and are beyond the control of the school district,” said OESJ Superintendent Laura Lawrence. “If you have any questions contact your local assessor. Staff is also available in the OESJ Business Office for further questions.”