The Niagara County Legislature has adopted its 2008 budget which on the surface seems like a fairly successful attempt to keep costs down while maintaining services. The countywide average tax rate will be $8.71 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, which is 2 cents lower than this year’s rate. The spending total is $302 million, which is $8.5 million less than this year’s budget.
What caught my eye is the county tax rate per thousand. While some in the community believe that the tax levy is the most critical component of the budget, those who understand government know that the tax rate truly drives what we as property owners pay, not the levy (which incidentally went down $5.6 million).
To once again attempt to clarify the difference, if a company comes into Niagara County and opens a business that is assessed at $50 million, the taxes which are derived from that company increase the tax levy by the appropriate amount. Because the tax levy has gone up, that does not mean that the amount we as homeowners pay will go up. What matters is the tax rate.
In Niagara County, the tax rate has gone down. For me, as a Town of Lockport resident, my tax rate is going down almost 4.5%.
But as alluded to before, the tax rate is what we need to focus on. If you live in the City of Lockport, your combined tax rate is over $50 per thousand. The county portion is $8.69 per thousand. If you live in the City of Lockport, approximately 15% of your combined taxes are county taxes. But you still have idiots in the local print media, radio and cable who believe that the county portion of our tax bills is the problem.
As a Town of Lockport resident, I'm ecstatic with the outcome of the 2008 budget. Could more have been done? Sure, but I'll take a tax reduction every time. In fact, I don't need a reduction, just hold the line. To the Leg, the County Manager and the department heads, thank you for doing your part to reduce my taxes. Maybe the school districts will take heed.
County tax rate per thousand by municipality are as follows:
Cambria, $7.83, down 34 cents; Hartland, $7.81, down 34 cents; Lewiston, $8.70, down 18 cents; City of Lockport, $8.69, up 1 cent; Town of Lockport, $7.83, down 34 cents; Newfane, $7.84, down 31 cents.
Niagara Falls, $8.43, up 25 cents; Town of Niagara, $12.70, up $1.42; North Tonawanda, $8.50, up 25 cents; Pendleton, $7.80, down 34 cents; Porter, $7.81, down 34 cents; Royalton, $9.34, up 56 cents; Somerset, $9.81, up 37 cents; Wheatfield, $10.60, up 11 cents; Wilson, $8.41, up 25 cents.