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Bulk of property in village of Canton is tax-exempt; trustees meet today to start new budget

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CANTON — Canton Village Clerk Sally A. Noble said she’s a very visual person.

It took the sight of an updated tax map to really appreciate the village’s property tax situation.

During the past decade, the amount of tax-exempt property within the village has climbed to 65 percent, according to a tax map prepared by the St. Lawrence County Real Property Department.

That means the owners of 35 percent of the village’s total assessed property are responsible for 100 percent of village taxes. The burden primarily falls on homeowners and businesses.

“I think it’s an eye-opening experience for village trustees,” Mrs. Noble said.

“When you see the map, it really makes an impression.”

Mayor David P. Curry said the village Board of Trustees will be looking at this type of data as it crafts next year’s budget.

“I don’t think people realize the amount of tax-exempt property we have in the village,” Mr. Curry said.

“We have a lot of buildings on Main Street that paid taxes for years, but are now tax-exempt.”

Trustees set their first budget workshop for 4 p.m. today in the municipal building, 60 Main St.

In 2003, the amount of tax-exempt property in the village was 54 percent, with the figure slowly inching upward for most of the past 10 years.

It reached 65 percent in 2011 and has stayed there for 2012 and 2013.

Tax-exempt properties added to the list over the past several years include the new St. Lawrence County jail and building projects at SUNY Canton and St. Lawrence University.

The village also is the seat of St. Lawrence County government; all of the government buildings are tax-exempt.

Other tax-exempt properties include several churches, nonprofit agencies, the Canton Central School building, the St. Lawrence-Lewis Board of Cooperative Educational Services center and town and village properties.

Within the village, St. Lawrence University owns the most tax-exempt property, with the assessed value totaling $109.5 million, according to village records.

In comparison, SUNY Canton owns $4.5 million worth of tax-exempt property, Mrs. Noble said.

The situation is similar in the neighboring village of Potsdam, where 67 percent of village property is tax-exempt, said Darren W. Colton, director of the St. Lawrence County Real Property Department.

“The two villages are similar, especially both having two colleges,” Mr. Colton said.

Mrs. Noble said that although the majority of its property is tax-exempt, St. Lawrence University paid the village $32,650 this year in property taxes for several homes and other parcels it owns on East Main Street.

The owners of some other tax-exempt properties, such as Rushton Place, 1 Main St., make payments in lieu of taxes to the village.

The total value of assessed property in the village is $458.6 million, according to statistics from Mrs. Noble.

The Nice N Easy convenience store that opened last year at 58 Main St. is among the properties that have been added to the village tax rolls.

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