BUFFALO, N.Y. - The Erie County legislature voted to adopt the $1.5 billion dollar 2019 budget last Thursday, which includes a 2.2% reduction in the property tax rate.
We asked tax professional, Chris Fabian to weigh in on the tax break: "When you do the math, a $100,000 home is going to save $11."
Fabian is the vice president of tax operations at EG Tax Services based in Tonawanda, and he said you shouldn't get too attached to that couple extra dollars in savings, "You gotta hope that they don't go through and reassess your house. Because, as we know, the housing market in Buffalo has finally taken off. So, if you take that $100,000 house, and now they reassess it at $130,000, your $11 savings actually went up to an increase of $123. at the same rate...Now you're going to owe more."
There had been hopes of a bigger drop in the property tax rate next year since there were higher than expected sales tax revenues in 2018.
2 On Your Side reached out to the County Executive's office to find out how big the county's surplus is right now, but we're told they won't know exactly how much it is until Spring 2019. The budget department's estimate projects the surplus to be somewhere around $23 million.
"While taxpayers may wonder why are you taxing us so much," said Brian Butry, Spokesperson for NYS Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli's office, "it is good financial practice to have some sort of surplus from the year, but also to be putting that money to productive use.."
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz proudly announced "additional funding for roads and infrastructure" with the approved budget setting aside just about $4.8 million for roads. The 2019 budget also cuts $1.2 million in proposed spending.
Butry tells us it's not typical for counties to have significant surpluses year after year. In terms of local municipalities and county governments, counties usually have the least amount of money in surplus because of mandated costs and the unpredictability of revenue sources, like sales tax.
"What we do want to see is, again, a plan for those surplus funds." stressed Butry, "that they're being put to use if they do get to a level that is considered excessive or more than what's reasonable."
The last time Erie County was audited by the state was in 2005.