Watertown— “Many people don’t know how in-depth taxes can be” said, Paul Warneck Director of Real Property Tax Services in Jefferson County. “Generally, people are looking at the total tax liability of their property from all sources. People look at school, county, and special water and sewer district.”
According Mr. Warneck, each county is broken up into villages. Jefferson County alone has 18 villages and property taxes vary depending upon the jurisdiction. There are a total of 15 school districts in the area. “Property taxes are affected, by which school district your house is in” said Warneck, “if you are in the Indian River District, property taxes is $4.70 per $1,000 of assessed evaluation. So, if you have a house valued at $200,000 then you have $940 in property taxes.”
Warneck continued to explain that Indian River District has the lowest property taxes compared to Carthage school district. “If you have a house zoned in Carthage school district, then the same exact house will cost you $2,200 in taxes.” According to the 6th Annual Lewis County Survey of the Community:
“Real-estate taxes were rated Poor as a quality-of-life indicator by 34% of respondents in 2012, the second-lowest in the six years of the surveys (the highest being 42% in 2009). Real-estate taxes were rated Good or Excellent by 27% of residents in 2012, the highest such rating in the six years of the survey.”
Former economics instructor and now District Business Manager of Indian River Central School District, James Koch explained that although Indian River is considered having the lowest property tax, the sequestration might change that. “If we see a level of impact aid cut over 10 years, that is a situation that the federal government is no longer paying for” said Mr. Koch. Indian River School District mostly work with kids who are from military families. “Impact aid is a payment in-lieu of taxes for those kids living on a military installations. What was $1.3 billion is down to $200 million in the federal budget.”
Indian River Central School District services approximately 2,700 kids whose parents do not pay property taxes, because of the tax-exempt housing on Fort Drum. “There are well over $1 billion worth of real-estate that is not taxable because of Fort Drum. That is what impact aid is all about, it’s a payment in-lieu of taxes,” said Koch. “If that program gets diminished because of the sequester, where’s it going to come from? So, on a long-range basis the sequester is very bad.” In Mr. Koch’s opinion, the sequestration cutting federal funds will likely result in a rise in property taxes within Indian River Central School District.