Tax District dead on arrival

Rotterdam taxpayers vote down proposal, REMS future unclear

There won't be a tax district for an ambulance service in Rotterdam anytime soon.

Election season may have passed, but Rotterdam residents were once again drawn to voting booths Wednesday, Dec. 14. Election signs littered main roads in the town, and there was even a billboard urging taxpayers to vote down the proposal, which they did 2,472-to-1,386.

Taxpayers flooded the single Town Hall polling location from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., where they voted against creating the tax district. There were no absentee ballots allowed in the vote.

[Voter turnout] was higher than both what the Board of Elections expected as well as what the administration expected, said Town Attorney Joseph Liccardi.

Supervisor Frank Del Gallo's letter to residents about the vote dated Nov. 22 stressed the vote is not for a specific ambulance, but previously he said if the resolution is passed the taxing district would go to Rotterdam Emergency Medical Services. The town's 2011 budget removed all funding for REMS.

The special taxing district was estimated to cost taxpayers 10 cents per every $1,000 of assessed property value, which the letter from Del Gallo said was based on an analysis done in August 2009. According to the town's 2009 Tax Roll Summary of the total assessed property in the town at $2,416,329,490, REMS would have acquired $232,527.92 of revenue.

There were a few hiccups during the voting process where some residents were confused about their eligibility to vote, or tax records didn't seem to match up at first with what election workers were provided.

"Many people whose property was in trust had difficulty with the concept that the trust voted for the property and the trust voted through a trustee," said Liccardi after the vote. "There was also some occasional situations where the (tax) roll books were incorrect, but we were able to very promptly resolve that by going down to the assessor's office and pulling out the file on the property."

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