January 10, 2005

After school in McLean; tax issues

This morning's Ithaca Journal looks at a new after-school program in McLean, giving kids more to do in the hamlet. Lack of transportation keeps kids in the area after school, and there isn't a place for kids to hang out in McLean. The program will offer tutoring, open the gym, and have pizza on Tuesday and Thursday nights.

A Cornell study suggests that we may want to keep farmland in Dryden for very practical reasons - as other parts of the country use more water than they have rain, there could be a "potential shift back to areas like the Pacific Northwest or the Northeast where agriculture is sustained mostly by rainfall, not irrigation."

The Journal also looks at tsunami relief efforts in the county, and provides a list of local places to donate.

In their editorial, the Journal looks at the complexities around town use of sales tax funds, an area that doesn't get much attention but which is worth a closer look:

Each town or village in Tompkins County has the option of using its share of sales tax revenue in its budget. Towns such as Dryden, Lansing and Ithaca opt to apply their sales taxes to their own budgets. Other townships such as Caroline, Danby and Newfield choose to apply their shares of sales tax revenue to their county taxes.

When a town applies its share of sales taxes to its budget, the town property tax rate generally goes down, but the county tax rate goes up. That inverse relationship applies to towns that choose to apply sales tax against the county property tax bill. For example, the Town of Dryden, which elects to keep its share of sales tax dollars, has a county tax rate of $7.18 per $1,000 assessed property value. The Town of Danby, which credits its sales tax revenue to the county, has a county tax rate of $3.38 per $1,000 assessed value.

However, Dryden's town tax rate is $1.47 per $1,000 assessed property value. Danby, which applies its sales taxes to the county, has a town rate of $6.73.

Sales tax application also came up as an issue at November's budget hearing, in relation to Councilman Hattery's question about the division of the budget between Townwide and Outside (the villages) items. These choices play through on a number of levels. (Update: The Town applies sales tax to Outside accounts first, as state law apparently requires, so there's no separate tax for Outside residents.)

Also on the opinion page, Greg Kimbell of Dryden writes to point out that while alcohol-related accidents cause a disproportionate number of fatalities, alcohol was only "a factor in 2.7 percent of the accidents." Kimbell's conclusion:

"It's still clear that drinking and driving should be avoided, but I would like to ask you to do four things to reduce our pain, suffering, and woe: pay attention when you're driving, follow the basic rules of the road, avoid placing blame on a nameless and faceless enemy and assume responsibility for your actions."

Posted by simon at January 10, 2005 8:42 AM in , , , , , ,
Note on photos