PERTH-The town adapted two new property tax laws and discussed Fulton County's recently approved budget Thursday.
Both proposed regulations were passed unanimously by the board.
The first amended a 1990 ordinance that granted a partial property tax exemption to the town's senior citizens. The new law increased the sliding scale for those who are eligible for the benefit. It now begins at $14,300 and continues on to $19,999. It repeals a 1997 law that had also increased the sliding scale.
The Leader-Herald/Zach Subar
Perth Town Supervisor Gregory Fagan, right, speaks during a town meeting Thursday as board members Gay Lewandowski, left, and Timothy Korona take notes.
The new law was made possible by New York state legislation that allowed towns to raise such a sliding scale even further than previously.
The second new regulation enables U.S. army members during the Cold War to also receive a property tax exemption. It applies to anyone who served between Sept. 2, 1945 and Dec. 26, 1991.
Since there is more than one exemption for which such individuals can qualify, they may choose any one they prefer.
"The good thing about this is that it doesn't discriminate," said Town Supervisor Gregory Fagan. "It still rewards those who had the potential to give their life, even though they didn't have to."
The town currently maintains a 49 percent equalization rate, meaning that it is assessing property at 49 percent of its actual value. The county average is 71 percent. The town of Bleecker is the only one in the county that is assessing at full 100 percent value.
The town's current tax rate is evaluated based on its $110 million worth of property. Fagan said that the town would like to do a revaluation soon in hopes that it will cause the overall tax rate to go down, even though doing so may cause some individuals' taxes to increase.
Fagan, who served on the Fulton County Board of Supervisors Finance Committee this year, also discussed the county's 2009 budget.
He expressed contentment with the final result and said he hoped that state regulations would not negatively affect residents.
"All in all, it's a decent budget. It's very frustrating how much of your dollars we have to spend on programs that the state mandates," he said. "We got it done, it's adopted, now we just hold our breath and hope the state doesn't go crazy on us."
Some residents were concerned that the lagging economy would eventually catch up with the county more than it has already.
"You have seen nothing yet. You're going to have to start considering layoffs. It's going to happen," said town resident Walt Kowalczyk.
Fagan responded that "it's kind of scary short term, but it will work through."
Zachary Subar covers rural Fulton County. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.