New tax rules could be implemented in Erie County

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Some homeowners in Erie County could be required to pay their property taxes a month early next year. It’s one of several changes to the Erie County Tax Act that are being considered.

Under the proposal, property owners in second class towns would see the due date for taxes move from March 15th to February 15th. Those towns include Boston, Brant, Colden, Collins, Concord, Eden, Holland, Marilla, Newstead, North Collins, Sardinia, and Wales.

“It hurts seniors on a fixed income,” dissented Legislator Joe Lorigo, the minority leader of the Erie County Legislator. “People who escrow their taxes through their mortgage, they’re going to have one month less to pay their taxes.”

The proposal to amend the tax act was debated at a special session of the Erie County Legislature Wednesday. They are being pushed by County Executive Mark Poloncarz’s administration.

Aside from the change in due dates for second class towns, the proposal also calls for the interest rate on delinquent taxes to drop from 18% to 12% and would allow the county to foreclose on properties after one year of delinquency, instated of two.

Whyte says the plan is an attempt to put a dent in the vacant home epidemic.

“Speeding up that foreclosure process allows us to deal with our vacant property problems, something that has plagued every community in Erie County for a considerable amount of time, with considerable detriment to the homeowners and neighbors in those communities,” she said.

“(It’s the) first time we’ve seen it. There are several issues that we have,” said Elma Town Supervisor Dennis Powers.

Powers, joined by several other town supervisors, was at the legislative meeting Wednesday. They say they’re worried cutting the interest on delinquent taxes by a third will create a cash flow problem for governments. Lorigo said it would create a $5 million hole in Erie County’s finances.

“One of the things the Association of Erie County Governments is asking is that they take pause and allow these questions to be answered before they vote on it,” said Eden Town Supervisor Melissa Hartman.

For the changes to be implemented, county lawmakers would have to pass legislation asking the New York State Legislature to enact the changes. State Senator Pat Gallivan and Assemblyman Sean Ryan are developing a corresponding bill in Albany.

County lawmakers are scheduled to vote on their legislation on Thursday. Each Republican lawmakers, plus Democratic Legislator Tom Loughran, said they are against the proposal.

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