Fri, March 19, 2021, 11:35 a.m.
City government decides to reject NYS tax exemptions for wind and solar panels
By Michael DePietro
The city of Wheatfield received $ 150,446 more revenue in 2020 than it spent on all of its budget and special districts.
Supervisor Don MacSwan released a letter this week along with a financial summary of the city’s finances through December 31, 2020, the date the city was electronically filed with the New York State Comptroller Office.
“Although the city faced a major crisis in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the city remains in a strong financial position at the end of 2020 due to the measures taken by the city,” the letter said. “Although the city lost revenue from sales tax, recreation fees, fines, and other miscellaneous revenue in 2020 as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, and city spending was reduced significantly, the city was able to make up for those revenue losses. The result was that the city did not have to dive into its fund balance (surplus) in 2020. For 2020, the city actually received $ 150,446 more revenue than it spent on all of its budget and special districts. …
“When the excess income of $ 150,446 over the expenses at the beginning of the year is added to a total of $ 4,514,517, the total fund amount at the end of 2020 for all household funds and special districts is $ 4,664,963. If the $ 164,946 in various reserves and the $ 1,450,000 allocated for the 2021 budget are subtracted, the unreserved unrestricted fund balance at the end of 2020 is $ 3,050,017, increasing from $ 396,621 to $ 2,653,396 at the beginning of the year. “
According to MacSwan, the 2020 excess in revenue over spending was due to several important factors. In particular, the city announced in August that it had reached an agreement with the local fire department and sheriff to extend the current contracts for another year as the city tries to ease further financial burdens in the wake of the pandemic. MacSwan praised the collaboration and professionalism of officials and representatives for the financial success.
“My hats go to our city council, which did a fantastic job during (the pandemic),” he said. “We also had our fire brigades, sheriff’s departments that made no increases (paid this year). So everyone did it and we got out before the game and I just want to thank our board members. thanks to the fire department and sheriff’s department; Anyone who made this possible because I know there are many communities and small towns that are really struggling with huge losses. “
Another factor listed was a $ 91,806 increase in the city’s mortgage tax revenue as many homeowners refinanced their mortgages because of the low interest rates. Mortgage tax revenue for 2020 was $ 472,635 compared to $ 380,829 for 2019. Sales tax revenue for 2020 was also not as low as originally estimated. The city saw an unexpected spike in sales tax revenue in September, up more than 23% from September last year. For 2020, the city’s total sales tax revenue was $ 4,803,170, compared to $ 4,904,243 in 2019 – a decrease of $ 101.073.
An attached memo from the city’s budget director Edward Mongold stated that the only resources that saw a decrease were the Lighting District ($ 1,317) and the Garbage District ($ 121,284). Mongold noted that the garbage district decline was planned when the 2020 budget was drawn up as the cost of garbage and recycling collection had increased significantly and the limited amount allowed for a tax levy increase due to the 2% tax cap. The loss of income for the garbage district had to be offset by using the credit.
“This situation will recur in 2021, but is expected to reverse in 2022,” said Mongold.
Resolution against NYS tax exemptions for wind and solar systems
The city government has unanimously passed a resolution against adding Section 575-b to the New York State Budget’s 2022 property tax bill and is calling on elected county and state officials to oppose the bill before it goes into effect in the budget process. The new tax law would provide a 15-year exemption from property tax for land on which wind or solar energy projects are built.
Under applicable law, Section 487 allows local governments to decline the tax exemption and tax wind or solar projects based on their full appraisal. Cities currently have the option to negotiate a payment with a developer in lieu of taxes or require the project team to pay full taxes based on the estimated value.
City officials said the new bill would “abolish the city of Wheatfield’s ability to appraise properties used for renewable energy projects and effectively remove any local scrutiny currently provided for in Section 487.”
Prosecutor Matthew Brooks said the state’s budget was based on the governor’s wishes to see more renewable energy projects by the end of the year.
“(The state is keen to) make development more affordable for solar or wind developers by lowering their taxes that would otherwise be imposed on them, be it through full value taxation or through a pilot arrangement. The state is trying to take this away from the local communities and establish its own procedure for determining the assessment and tax, ”he said. “So there is a movement from local communities to tell their county and state lawmakers that we are against removing house rules taxation from local communities.”