County Comptroller blows whistle on county's property tax cap

Posted at 12:56 PM, Nov 01, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-01 13:11:30-04

Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw released a report to the Legislature blowing the whistle on what he's calling a "smoke and mirrors" scheme behind the Poloncarz administration's failure to comply with New York State's Property Tax Cap Law. 

The dense report citing the flipping of words, "taxes" to "fees" in three of the county's largest sewer districts.

Comptroller Mychajliw says, charging home owners for utilities based on property value and not usage is,"deliberately breaking of the law" and has blown the NYS Property Tax Cap by $24 million dollars, $7 million in the 2016 budget and $17 million in the proposed 2017 budget. 

"This lie is an utter betrayal to the public, which by law are protected from rising property taxes. Taxpayers have been robbed of that security and now their expected rebates may be in jeopardy," Mychajliw says. 

Joe Maciejewski has been the Erie County Real Property Tax Director for two decades.  He said the comptroller is misinterpreting the language.  According to Maciejewski, the county "accurately restated" the sewer charges on the property tax bill to reflect a $180 flat fee that is separate from the taxes levied.

"Any property that is in a sewer district is going to pay a tax which is part of the levy, which is part of the calculation of the tax cap," he said.  "It was a reclassification and we believe the comptroller's office is not reading the bill correctly.  Period.  We don't believe there is anything wrong."

Maciejewski also said Erie County residents should not worry about losing their rebates.