Democratic Caucus of the Monroe County Legislature

County Should Better Communicate Impact of Property Purchases on Town and School District Budgets

Tom MorriseyComment

Rochester, New York — Legislator Josh Bauroth (D – Rochester, Brighton) believes Monroe County should improve how it communicates about property purchases that affect the tax rolls of towns and school districts. New legislation introduced by Legislator Bauroth, the “Truth in Impact on Municipal Budgeting Act,” would require the county’s planning board to notify local governments when it is reviewing a property purchase as part of the annual creation of the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), or when amending the existing plan.

“In Monroe County, we often hear about unfunded mandates, their impact on the county budget, and the desire for more flexibility from Albany,” Bauroth said. “Similarly, when the county purchases property, we owe it to town supervisors, village mayors and school district superintendents to inform them that a purchase is being considered so that advance planning can be done for the potential loss of tax revenue in their budgets.”

Monroe County regularly purchases property, and if that purchase is from a private owner, the value of that land is moved off of the tax rolls.  For example, in the most recent CIP, a former gas station was purchased near the airport to increase the buffer zone around its runways, and an office building on Brighton-Henrietta Town Line Road was purchased to serve as the new headquarters for the MCC Foundation.  The office purchase alone represents a decrease of more than $20,000 in revenue for the Town of Brighton, Rush-Henrietta School District, and local ambulance and fire districts.

In addition to giving local leaders earlier notice that properties may be leaving their tax rolls, Bauroth also hopes that involving these local government leaders earlier in the process will allow county officials to leverage additional information they may have about a property. “Whenever possible, county government should establish policies and comport itself in ways that stress open communication and collaboration with its towns and school districts,” Bauroth said.  “This is an example of good governmental practice, regardless of political parties. It is never a bad idea to give as much advance notice to local entities as possible and ease any inadvertent side effects they will have on their budgets.”

The bill, referral number 15-0245, was introduced last week and will be considered by the Agenda and Charter committee on Wednesday, August 19 at 5:30 p.m.  If you cannot attend, public comments can be submitted by calling (585) 753-1950.