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ROTTERDAM: Schools face angry taxpayers

If you live in Rotterdam, chances are you received your school tax bills and chances are you are not happy, because your taxes are very high or because you realized you have been overcharged for years.

The school board president and town officials have been fielding angry phone calls from residents who have just received their tax bills for the past week.

Mohonasen Superintendent Kathleen Spring said she has been answering phone calls from frustrated and confused residents since school began on Thursday, Sept. 6, and town Supervisor Steven Tommasone said during the past week, he has answered about 100 phone calls and e-mails from residents with questions about their tax bills.

Spring and Denise Swezey, assistant superintendent for business, presented tax rate information to about 30 residents at Mohonasen's school board meeting Monday, Sept 10. According to their information, the average Rotterdam homeowner who lives within the Mohonasen School District will pay school taxes at a rate of $14.64 per $1,000 of assessed value.

Residents were most confused about their tax bills because when the first tax disclosure notices were mailed in March, it said school tax rates would be set at $8.89.

Both Spring and Swezey said they had no idea how GAR Associates, who did the town's reassessment or the town came up with that number, but it was clearly wrong.

We said since the beginning of our budget process that tax rates would be between $12 and $14, Spring said.

Tax rates come from dividing the total assessed value of properties within a district by the tax levy.

A school district's tax levy is the total amount of money the district will be collecting from the taxpayers. Swezey said regardless of how much individual taxes increase, the district collects the same amount. This year Mohonasen's tax levy is $20,821,340. For the 2006-2007 school year the tax levy was $19,972,671, an increase of $848,669 or 4.25 percent.

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