Mohon tax rate under estimate

Mohonasen Central School District taxpayers living in Rotterdam got some good news last week from school officials who said next year's tax rate increase would be more than $7 per thousand less than they originally thought.

When voters approved the school budget of $38,712,942 in May, Rotterdam residents were told their tax rate would be $38.03 per thousand of assessed value, which translated into a $167.33 tax increase for owners of an average house, assessed at $4,400.

Rotterdam has never conducted a town-wide re-evaluation of property values and, as a result, assessed values represent less than 3 percent of its actual market value.

During last week's board of education meeting, assistant superintendent for business Denise Swezey informed members that next year's tax rate increase would not be $38.03 per thousand as initially projected; it will be $30.78 per thousand.

We did caution people that the rates were going to change, Swezey said, adding, "They were just estimates."

The adjusted tax rate announced by the school means a smaller tax increase. For example, instead of a $167.33 increase, owners of an average property would be taxed $135.43 more than last year.

Swezey said that changes in Guilderland's equalization rate helped hold down Rotterdam's increase.

Equalization rates are the state's assessment of a municipality's level of assessment (LOA). The LOA is a ratio of the assessed value to the municipality's total market value, according to the state's office of real property services (ORPS).

Last year, for example, Guilderland's equalization rate was 100 percent, which meant ORPS considered that assessments in the town matched the market value of the town properties.

This year, Guilderland's equalization rate fell to 84 percent so their school taxes rose.

How does the equalization rate work?

Imagine that Guilderland and Rotterdam were the only towns taxed to pay for the school and the amount needed to be raised through taxes was $1 million.

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