SOMERSET, N.Y. (WIVB) – Residents of a small town in Niagara County are looking at a 113 percent increase in their taxes.
The proposed 2018 budget for the Town of Somerset looks to increase the tax rate from $0.79 per $1,000 assessed valuation to $1.68 per $1,000.
The proposed tax rate is the same rate residents paid in 2012, Somerset supervisor Dan Engert said in a statement accompanying the proposed budget.
Engert called the 2018 preliminary budget “the most difficult since I took office”.
Over the past five years, the tax rate for Somerset has averaged $0.80 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, with the strategy of the Town Board looking to “reduce the tax rate as low as possible by drawing on reserves” to encourage economic development and home ownership in the town.
The increase in property tax is to help compensate for a nearly $1.2 million loss in revenue from the Somerset Operating Co. power plant. In 2008, the plant paid $1.3 million to the town as Payment in Lieu of Taxes. In 2018, only $139,000 in PILOT payment will be paid to Somerset- a 89 percent reduction in revenue.
“Simply put, when you lose 89 percent of your tax base that paid on average 70 percent of the total town tax, it’s inevitable that a shift will take place unless we eliminate major elements of town government,” Engert said.
The town is cutting its total spending by half in the proposed 2018 budget, from $1.5 million to $745,111- but “there aren’t many areas left to cut…without eliminating essential services”, Engert said.
A public hearing on the proposed 2018 budget will be held Wednesday at Somerset Town Hall.