Brian Pugh: Lifting the Burden on Property Taxpayers

To the Editor:

In last week’s Gazette, I wrote about controlling property taxes

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by managing fast growing budget line-items (e.g. insurance). In addition to controlling spending, we also need to diversify revenue sources so our Village government is less dependent on property taxes paid by homeowners.

Sources of new revenue includes:

  1. Stimulating new economic growth through mixed-use developments like those made possible by Harmon rezoning. The 2013 Harmon re-zoning law, which permits mixed residential and commercial use in the Harmon Zoning District adds options and incentives for commercial property owners in the Harmon business district. At the time and even today, the law was opposed by Croton United’s leaders. Yet it has spurred investment in new mixed use buildings in Harmon and these new investments can add value to the tax rolls and help lighten the load on other taxpayers.
  2. Getting Village-owned property back on the tax rolls by working with private investors that could develop the property. The Village owns parcels such as the “Katz property” and Municipal Place. These parcels could be sold to private developers, giving the Village an initial cash infusion and new property tax revenue into the future (helping to lighten the burden on existing taxpayers). Moreover, this re-development can and should be integrated into a larger economic strategy to help integrate the Village’s commercial corridors and catalyze complimentary uses that will create new business opportunities and amenities in our community.
  3. Capitalizing on possible renewable energy projects on Village property. Sunrise Solar in conjunction with Sunpower proposed creating a 4 megawatt solar power canopy system above the train station parking lot. Under this proposal SunPower would pay Croton a lease for the use of the parking lot (typically for a 20-year term) with annual payments of $100-150,000 ($2-3M over term of contract).

While each individual change may be modest, taken together they can have a substantial impact.

Typically, the property tax increase in a given fiscal year is in the neighborhood of $100,000. Therefore, even small increases in non-tax revenue can help us freeze property taxes and keep our community affordable for middle class families.

Brian Pugh

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