Cortland City Council Considering Grant to Study County Wide Tax Collection Office
Friday, January 31, 2014
Cortland City Council Considering Grant to Study County Wide Tax Collection Office
The Cortland City Council is being asked to consider applying for a state grant that if awarded would be used to study the idea of a countywide tax collection service.
Next Tuesday, city leaders will consider applying for a local government efficiency grant through the Secretary of State's office. The State has set money aside to help municipalities fund studies for possible shared services, consolidations or mergers.
City Administrator Mack Cook says recently the city's tax collector retired which prompted a discussion about how the city provides for the collection of property taxes.
The city like most towns collects its local property along with county property taxes, in addition the City also collects delinquent school taxes for the Cortland City School District.
Cook says he has identified 5 options for the city's tax collection services; the city could fill the vacancy and continue on as is, the council could reduce the position to part time to save money, the city could contract with an independent tax collector, the city could hire a company to prepare and mail tax bills and collect the taxes, or the city could consider a combination of all those options.
Cook says another option which is consistent with Governor Cuomo's call for more shared services among municipalities is enter into a partnership with the County or other municipalities and create a unified tax administration system. 
Cook says if the grant is awarded the city could study what it would take to create a shared tax collection program. 
Under the Governor's proposed property tax freeze and rebate program, property owners in municipalities that stay under the 2% tax cap would be rewarded with a check to offset their taxes, residents living in municipalities that move toward a meaningful consolidation that reduces the local tax levy would receive another rebate check.
Cook says a shared tax collection office may help all local municipalities and fire districts achieve the type of costs savings the governor is looking for and qualify residents for the additional tax rebate. 
Cook says in order to apply for the funding he needs at least one other municipality to jointly apply for the funding, at this point he has not approached other local governments. Cook says he wanted the council's input before soliciting potential partners.
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