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Fenner 2019 final budget approved, includes tax increase

The Fenner town board unhappily approved its 2019 final town budget this week – a budget that includes a town tax rate increase of 66 cents per every $1,000 of assessed value over last year’s tax rate.

“We cut here and there and everywhere … unfortunately [the tax rate] is up 66 cents from last year,” said Supervisor Dave Jones at the board’s Nov. 14 regular monthly meeting.

The total 2019 budget is $967,731.42, with $415,732.10 to be raised by taxes.

“The amount to be raised by taxes was $12,000 less than last year, but because of the windmill assessment [reduction], there wasn’t much we could do,” Jones said.

Jones was referring to the revaluation of the Fenner Wind Farm tax assessment at $13 million less than last year – an action taken by the town earlier this year to resolve a lawsuit between the town and Canastota Wind Power, LLC, the owners of the windmills.

In 2018, the windmills were assessed at $25 million, which was in-line with the company’s agreement with the town 15 years ago. Canastota Wind Power challenged the assessment as being excessive, stating that it felt the assessment should be only $4 million. After months of legal wrangling, and state supreme court judge who sided with the town of Fenner’s argument, the company accepted an assessment of $11 million on its wind farm.