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November 17, 2012

Proposed Clinton County budget comes in under tax cap

PLATTSBURGH — Clinton County’s proposed budget plan for 2013 shows a tax-levy increase of 1.9 percent, which is under the state tax cap.

“I think it is a reasonable and responsible budget at this point,” Legislature Chairman Jimmy Langley (R-Area 7, Peru) said.

The county has benefited this year from hefty sales-tax revenue and the outsourcing of a major department.

Sales-tax revenue is projected to be up by about $3.4 million over 2011, and the county saved about $1.7 million when it sold its home-health-care service to HCR of Rochester earlier this year.

In addition to saving money on the service, HCR is paying the county $320,000 per year for the license.

COMPOSITE TAX RATE

While the tax rate for each town in the county is different, based on assessed property value, the overall projected composite tax rate for the county is  $6.11 per $1,000 of assessed value. That projection is 6 cents or 1 percent higher than the 2012 composite rate.

The overall spending plan is about $155.9 million, which is about $1.8 million lower than the 2012 plan.

The state’s tax cap is based on a 2 percent levy increase, but exceptions are made for tax-base growth, employee retirement costs and payments in lieu of taxes.

Under that formula, the county could have increased its tax levy by 3.2 percent and still be within the cap.

The tax levy is the difference between the government’s total expenses and total revenues, the remainder having to be raised by property taxes. Tax bills fluctuate with assessments, so the levy is usually the better determinant of individual tax bills.

CANADIAN EFFECT

The significant increase in sales-tax revenue this year is largely attributed to the rising number of Canadians visiting the area. The strength of the Canadian dollar, which is at par with the U.S. dollar, spurs people from the north to visit this area for shopping and vacations.

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