New York County Executive Proposes $7.6 Million Cut in Property Tax


Executive Steven Neuhaus proposes to slash the property tax levy in Orange County, New York, by $7.6 million to $126.5 million in the coming year.

Largely due to booming sales tax, the county can expand services and take on new initiatives in 2023 without asking property owners for more money, according to Neuhaus at a virtual budget presentation on Sept. 29.

He proposes a county budget of $896.3 million, an 8 percent jump from the year before.

Goshen Town Hall at 41 Webster Avenue in Goshen, NY, on June 27, 2016. (Holly Kellum/The Epoch Times)

However, drops in property tax levy and tax rate—the proposed property tax rate of $2.8 per thousand is the lowest the county has seen in 46 years—do not equate to lower property tax bills for every homeowner.

In areas where property value rises faster than the tax rate drops, residents will still see higher property taxes in the coming year.

Since 2014, the county property tax rate has gone down by 9.6 percent, while property values ​​have increased by 32.6 percent, according to the budget presentation.

Orange county’s economy centers around tourism, and county services are largely funded by sales tax—the single largest revenue source for county government.

In the past five years—except for the pandemic year—the county sales tax has risen steadily. Neuhaus expects to collect $393.8 million in sales tax by 2023.

Epoch Times Photo
A Lego character dragon greets guests from a tower at the front entrance to the Legoland New York Hotel during its grand opening at the Legoland Resort on Aug. 06, 2021 in Goshen, New York. (Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

He said about a quarter of sales taxes will be distributed back to local cities, towns, and villages.

As tourism thrives, hotel and motel taxes are rising too, estimated to be $6.7 million next year.

The county has about 3,800 hotel rooms, with 350 more in construction and 1,500 more in planning.

To drive up tourism even further in the coming year, Neuhaus plans a million-dollar campaign to promote big attractions such as West Point, Storm King’s, and Legoland as well as businesses and festivals in small towns and villages.

New Services and Expenses

The county plans a new mobile Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office next year. It now has three DMV offices in Middletown, Newburgh, and Goshen.

Neuhaus also plans upgrades at Thomas Bull Memorial Park, renovation of the county homeless shelter HONOR, and reconstruction of four bridges in the county in 2023.

On top of that, several county buildings will be upgraded to be accessible to disabled people.

When it comes to expenses for the county, human services—which include those provided to seniors, families in need, veterans, and the labor force—cost the most, about 27 percent of the total budget for next year.

Epoch Times Photo
Orange County Courthouse in Goshen, NY, on September 26, 2022. (Cara Ding/The Epoch Times)

Health services—which cover mental health support, the Health Department, and the county nursing home Valley View—come second, taking up 18 percent of the budget.

Neuhaus said the cost for Valley View might rise above the budgeted amount if state and federal aid continue to back off funding the nursing center.

Public safety-related services, which consist of the Sheriff’s Office, the District Attorney’s Office, the 911 Center, and probation services, account for 15 percent of the budget.

fluidity

Neuhaus may amend his budget based on changes in revenue forecasts or cost estimates in the coming months, according to his budget presentation.

For example, the county has several state mandates, and it remains unknown if the state or the county will pick up the tab. One mandate has to do with increased attorney compensation following new state court decisions.

Also, county voters will elect a new sheriff in November, with whom Neuhaus will review and amend the public safety budget.

The county legislature will mark the budget by mid-November and pass a final budget by the end of December.

Cara Ding

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Cara is an Orange County, New York-based Epoch Times reporter. She can be reached at cara.ding@epochtimes.com

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