Fulton County Board reduces average county tax rate for 2022

PHOTOGRAPHER:

The Fulton County Board of Supervisors are shown at work Monday. 

JOHNSTOWN — The Fulton County Board of Supervisors amended the county’s $100 million tentative budget Monday to include a tax rate cut of 23 cents, bringing the projected average county tax rate to $10.66 per $1,000 of assessed property value.

The county’s tentative 2022 budget had originally included a tax rate increase of 9 cents, bringing the average county tax rate from $10.89 to $10.98 per $1,000 of assessed value.

County budget director Alice Kuntzsch said two significant increases in federal aid were added into the budget Monday, which helped pay for the tax rate cut.

“It’s because the federal government is continuing the FMAP [Federal Medical Assistance Percentages] money to reduce our county share [of the cost of Medicaid],” she said.

Kuntzsch said the federal government increased its funding of Medicaid by $403,767 and there was a $65,000 increase in revenues the county receives to help pay for the education of children with disabilities.

The initial tentative county budget included $3.1 million in spending from the county’s approximately $24 million in reserves, but the Board of Supervisors on Monday also voted to spend an additional $500,000 from the county’s fund balance reserve of unspent revenues, bringing total fund balance appropriations for the 2022 budget to $3.6 million.

Caroga Supervisor Scott Horton said he has been pleased so far with the county’s 2022 budget process.

“I think the best part about it is the county wanting to reduce the tax rate. I thought that was marvelous,” Horton said.

It remains to be seen how the tax rate cut will be applied to the different county property tax rates applied in each of the county’s 10 towns and two cities. The New York state property tax equalization rate, which attempts to mitigate the gap between the assessed value of property and its actual sale price, governs how high the county tax rate is in each municipality. When a town or city’s equalization rate falls, it generally absorbs a greater portion of the county’s overall property tax levy.

The 9-cents-per-thousand-dollars of assessed value tax rate increase originally included in the 2022 tentative budget was entirely due to the county’s overall equalization rate dropping from 73.18% to 70.30% with the two most significant equalization rate drops occurring in the town of Johnstown, which went from 65% to 60%, and Perth, which went from an equalization rate of 49% down to 45.40%. Bleecker and Gloversville both have equalization rates of 100%.

Under the original 2022 tentative budget before it was amended on Monday the county tax rate in Perth was set to go up 4.40%, a 77 cent per thousand dollars of assessed value increase, taking Perth’s county tax rate from $17.49 per thousand dollars of assessed value to $18.26 per thousand dollars of assessed value.

Several supervisors asked what the town and city rates would be after the average county tax rate was cut at Monday’s budget workshop but Kuntzsch said they had not yet been calculated.

After the meeting Kuntzsch said it has been the typical practice of Fulton County not to provide a report of the apportionment of the county property tax levy until after final adoption of the county budget, which the board has scheduled for Nov. 29.

“No, we don’t give that out ahead of time,” she said. “The reason why is we could come into the meeting, and they could decide to change it.”

During the budget workshop, Kuntzsch also told the board she was still waiting to learn whether or not there would be any cost increases to one of the health insurance packages offered by the county, from Blue Cross Blue Shield, and she asked the board whether or not she should apply additional fund balance money to cover any additional increases and the consensus of the board indicated that she should.

The Fulton County Board of Supervisors set a county finance committee meeting for noon on Nov. 29, then a public hearing for a local law to increase appointed county officials salaries at 1:30 p.m., and then the public hearing for the final adoption of the 2022 budget for 1:45 p.m.

By Jason Subik

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