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City tax rate adjusted up  

The tax rate for Lackawanna taxpayers did not go down quite as much as city officials thought.

The City Council Monday was asked by Assessor Frank E. Krakowski to approve a correction of the adjusted base proportions of the 2008-2009 assessment rolls because of a computer error that did not assign an assessed value to one of the eight new wind turbines off Route 5.

“The dollar amount never got calculated into the computer,” Krakowski told lawmakers. “In March, we did the final roll and when things were [calculated] into the budget, that amount, somehow, was lost.”

The Steel Winds wind farm is under a Payment in Lieu of Taxes or PILOT agreement, which means the turbines are currently tax exempt, but they still must be assigned an assessed value in the final assessment roll totals, Krakowski explained.

As a result, the final assessment rolls, as approved by the City Council in March, were incorrect, requiring the Council to approve an adjustment to the tax rate to preserve the 10 percent shift between the city’s homestead and non-homestead base proportions it approved in March. Krakowski said the computer miscalculation had the effect of inflating the city’s taxable value by more than $1 million.

So while the city’s 2008-2009 tax levy will remain unchanged, the homestead tax rate paid by homeowners in Lackawanna was boosted 17 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation from $11.12 per $1,000 to $11.29. That’s still 29 cents less than the 2007-2008 tax rate of $11.58 per $1,000 of assessed valuation.

The non-homestead rate paid by business owners in the city was bumped up from $32.35 per $1,000 to $32.95 per $1,000. The adjusted figure is 53 cents per $1,000 less than last year’s homestead tax rate of $33.48 per $1,000.

The adjustment approved by the City Council affect both the city and the school district portions of the 2008-2009 assessment roll.

First Ward Councilwoman Andrea Haxton balked at the late notice the council received regarding the incorrect assessment roll totals and suggested that lawmakers be given time to review it and hold a special meeting later in the week.

Krakowski said that would affect the timing of the tax bills, causing them to be mailed out a month later than originally scheduled.

Haxton also complained the Steel Winds wind farm project was supposed to lowertaxes for ratepayers in the city.

“With the windmills here, it’s ridiculous that taxes have to change,” Haxton said.

By Harold McNeil
News Staff Reporter

The Buffalo News

8 July 2008

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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