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Business Community Calls On Legislature To Keep Tax Rate Flat

To The Reader’s Forum:

County government has made an effort to move the needle on the tax rate in Chautauqua County over the past several years.

In 2015, the tax rate was $9.149 per thousand and moved down to a rate of $8.375 per thousand in 2019. We commend our county leaders and department heads for their efforts to lower the rate. The Chamber of Commerce and Manufacturers Association believe that lowering property taxes encourages private investment and economic growth. We call on the legislature to approve a final 2020 budget that keeps the tax rate flat.

Reducing the tax rate over the past several years has been the result of implementing several strategies. County government has had an increase in revenues, which has occurred as a result of the sales tax increase approved in 2015, along with the general increase in overall commerce activity across the county. Increases in property values have helped increase property tax receipts. County government has at times used the fund balance to help lower the rate as well as cost containment strategies.

The proposed fiscal 2020 budget estimates a $4.26 million increase in revenue compared to the 2019 budget. This increase in revenue is derived from a combination of sales tax revenue and an increase in the property tax levy. The budget also includes a $3.3 million increase in aid from New York state.

It is worth noting that the appropriations increase within the 2020 budget is 1.1%, which is below the current inflation rate of 1.7%. However, approximately 13 departmental budgets are increasing their costs beyond the rate of inflation. We encourage the county legislature to take another look at the budget to seek cost savings. We believe there are cost containment opportunities through departmental efficiencies and mergers that can continue the trend of lowering the Chautauqua County tax rate.

Todd Tranum

Town of Ellicott

President/CEO, Chautauqua County

Chamber of Commerce

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