Copake tax rate rises but the reasons aren’t entirely clear

COPAKE–Taxpayers will see a 9% increase in their tax rate next year, with the rate for the general fund and the Highway Department rising from $2.34 to $2.55 per $1,000 of assessed value next year.

In these tight times, it may not be surprising that tax rates are rising on the local level. But the increase in Copake does pose a question, because the total amount to be raised by taxes is going down in 2011 to $1,092,418 from $1,097,044, a decrease of .4%.

Why is the tax rate going up if spending is going down? The answer doesn’t lie in the town’s overall assessed value, because the figures show the total value for property in the town is up slightly over the current year.

But a closer examination of the numbers does reveal a significant difference between the 2011 budget adopted November 15 and the 2010 budget adopted last fall and currently in place. One of the things that distinguishes the 2010 budget is the inclusion of $100,000 to repay a loan the town used to address a major mid-year deficit that cropped up in 2009.

Next year’s budget shows no such loan repayment line, but spending on the general fund and the highway fund together will increase by $95,000 next year. In addition, the town plans to apply $25,000 to the budget from its unexpended balance to offset spending this year.

Councilwoman Linda Gabaccia, the only Town Board member who could be reached and was willing to venture an answer, said that if the amount to be raised by taxes is less than it was, yet the tax rate is up, it must be because the taxable base has gone down in value. Told that the value had actually risen slightly, she said she would look into the matter.

Supervisor Reggie Crowley and Deputy Supervisor/Budget Officer Joe LaPorta could not be reached prior to press deadline. Councilman Bob Sacks said he could not answer the question off the top of his head and would have to look at the budget.

Total appropriations are down by .9% next year from $1,957,955 to $1,940,299.

Estimated revenues are also down next year from $860,911 to $822,881.

When special districts are included, the total amount to be raised by taxes spikes up by 32%, going from $1,413,029 this year to $1,868,672 in 2011.

There is no listing on the 2010 budget for the Craryville and Hillsdale-Copake fire districts, which are listed on the 2011 budget and seem to account for the increase in the total next year.

To contact Diane Valden email

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