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Colton-Pierrepont Central taxpayers will see higher tax bills in September

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COLTON — The recently announced settlement between the town of Colton and Brookfield Power over the assessed values of six Erie Boulevard Hydropower-owned properties came as little surprise to Colton-Pierrepont Central School District officials.

In fact, the district has been preparing for a settlement for about six years by putting away approximately $1.7 million in a reserve fund, but taxpayers still will see a steep hike in their tax rate because of the reduced assessments that Brookfield has won.

Colton taxpayers’ rate will go up 9.2 percent, but those in Pierrepont face about a 17 percent increase, Superintendent Joseph A. Kardash said.

“The maximum liability that this case could have come back with could have been as high as a $15 million payback,” he said. “Fortunately, the settlement didn’t include any payback.”

The agreement between the two parties shows the overall assessment of the six properties beginning at $175 million in 2013. The value will decrease by $5 million each year through 2019, finishing at $145 million.

The $30 million tax base that was lost will see the levy spread across the remaining tax base, Mr. Kardash said.

The settlement will affect how the district plans for the future.

“We understand that the taxpayers can only shoulder so much, so we’re going to look to be conservative moving forward and try to keep our tax increases to a minimum so the taxpayers aren’t overburdened,” Mr. Kardash said. “As we look at staffing, we’ve already reduced a position and a half even since the budget was approved. That’s just in preparation for next year’s budget.”

One mitigating factor is the gradual nature of the deal, giving taxpayers time to absorb the impact.

Still, “it’s a tough pill to swallow for a taxpayer,” Mr. Kardash said.

Those who are interested in how their school taxes are calculated can access the district’s tax calculator at cpcs.k12.ny.us/boed/CP_tax_calculation.htm.

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