A Closer Look at the Mendon Tax Rate Reduction
November 2, 2017
Recently, the Town Supervisor and Board members issued a press release saying that the proposed 2018 budget calls for a property tax rate reduction for the Town of Mendon and Village of Honeoye Falls.
The Mendon Democrats and our candidates, Terry Daniele and Erin Kehaley-Corr, support these tax breaks. Our tax burden has been high and residents can use some relief. However, our experience with and analysis of Town budgets warrants a closer look at the details.
The news is unfortunately timed. The tax rate reduction news was released less than two weeks BEFORE the Town Board election, clearly naming the members up for re-election, but the budget hearing was scheduled AFTER the election. That means two things: 1) questions like those we pose below could not be addressed prior to the election and 2) the current board cannot be held accountable for promises made before the election. It also means the community should not use this as a decision factor in their votes.
We think residents have a right to know:
While we certainly appreciate the Town Board proposing this tax rate reduction, we believe Mendon’s voters should have been included in the process. This would require greater disclosure of the terms and conditions of the entire budget, so that the numbers and reasonings behind the budget are transparent. Having a one-party Town Board leaves little room for cooperation and for fulfilling the obligations the Town has to the entire community.
The Mendon Democrats are committed to securing the future of Mendon while being transparent in the decisions that lead us there.
If our candidates, Terry Daniele and Erin Kehaley-Corr, are elected, a main priority will be to create an open dialogue for citizens to voice their opinions and get their questions answered. We will listen, cooperate, strengthen, and protect Mendon, in partnership with the board members as we work for the entire community.
Support Mendon. Vote for TERRY DANIELE and ERIN KEHALEY-CORR on November 7th.
Please help us get the word out to Mendon voters about Terry and Erin’s campaign. We’ll be meeting on Saturday 10/21 at noon and Sunday 10/22 at 11:00 a.m. in the library parking lot. Just two hours of canvassing each/either day. Email us at MendonDems2008@gmail.com if you can help out.
Please join us in canvassing for Erin Kehaley-Corr and Terry Daniele for Mendon Town Board (Council).
We will meet on Sunday, October 15th at 11:30 in the Mendon Library parking lot and split up into pairs for door to door.
Diana Kastenbaum will be joining us. Please email us at MendonDems2008@gmail.com if you can make it.
Another View of the Recent Town Board Solar Vote – by Anthony Daniele
I concur with Tim Pryor’s letter regarding the Mendon Town Board’s ruling on NYS Real Property Tax Law section 487. At recent Board meetings, it became clear that at least some Board members were not fully familiar with the law, especially the fact that the exemption applied to only a percentage of the increased value resulting from the added system – not a complete relief from taxation. This is a concern, as is the fact that the Board never explained the law, or its thinking on same, on the official Town website. It is therefore impossible to know how they presented the law as they discussed it with Mendon residents or even how the Board reached its decision.
During discussion of the resolution by the Board at its July 17 meeting, most Board members said they had spoken with various Mendon residents, who were near unanimous in their opposition to the tax exemption.
The general belief seemed to be that the exemption applied only to businesses (not accurate), probably not local businesses, and that residents feel that they “pay my taxes” and no break should be given to anyone else. Mr. Hagreen suggested that the assessor “probably” would not increase the assessment of any homeowner who constructed a system for his or her home. He said a solar system might be viewed by potential buyers as a benefit or, instead, an eyesore. This position poses two problems. First, it requires the assessor to ignore and disobey the law. Second, any part of a home; a pool, a deck or even siding – could be viewed by potential buyers as a benefit or not. Does the assessor then put a value on none of the property’s features?
It is impossible to know what any given assessor might do. Will he or she increase your assessment? Increase yours but not your neighbors? By how much? I told the Board there will be no recourse if you believe the assessor increased your assessment because of a solar, wind or biomass system. A Court will be required to dismiss any argument based on section 487 because the Town opted out of the law.
And this does not even go to the argument of promoting sustainable energy. The Board made pains to say it favors sustainability, but this ruling contradicts those statements.
TOWN BOARD DRAGS MENDON INTO THE PAST
Recent Mendon Board legislation is part of a state-wide effort to thwart clean energy
The Mendon Town Board recently took action to brand our town as a community that clings to the past and shuns the future. I refer here to the recent Board action that exempts the town from Section 487 of the Tax Law, which encourages residents to install alternative energy systems such as solar, wind or methane recycling (usually from animal waste).
Section 487 exempts homeowners and others who install alternative energy systems from an increase in their tax assessment based on the added value of the installation. Since 1991, New York has provided this real estate tax exemption, along with additional income tax incentives, to encourage investment in alternative energy systems.
In recent years, these incentives have been under increasing attack by coal, oil and gas interests which have begun to resent the competition from clean energy. The Mendon Town Board’s legislation, which eliminates the exemption, is part of a state-wide effort to thwart clean energy promoted by the Koch family and other Big Energy interests.
Section 487 also allows towns to opt out of the exemption, and thus tax alternative energy installations. This is what the Board just did. The Town Board (which came up with this notion when some if its members attended a seminar paid for with tax money) claims that the tax incentive is unfair to citizens who do not have alternative energy systems. I have yet to understand how the tax incentive in unfair, as any citizen can take advantage of it, no one is penalized for not taking advantage of it, and the Board has not offered any factual support for its claim.
The Board’s attorney says the new law will affect only large installations, not individual home installations, because the town has not historically seen the addition of a solar system as a valuable addition to property. However, NY-Sun, a project of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), asserts that “Jurisdictions cannot choose to tax large systems but not small ones.”
For my part, I cannot see how the Town of Mendon will benefit from the new law. It does not affect existing systems, which are grandfathered by the state law. By its own admission, the Town will not increase the assessment of any new system attached to a private home. The Town is also not likely to gain from assessing any new solar farm or similar installations, because the Board’s action will discourage the establishment of alternative energy systems in Mendon. “Some local governments are opting out of RPTL § 487 so they can tax these multimillion-dollar projects and generate additional property tax revenue. However, these jurisdictions may find that they will not actually collect … more tax revenue from solar or other renewable energy systems because the systems may not be built if they are fully taxable, ” NY SUN explained.
There are clearly some negatives associated with the Town Board’s decision. First, Section 487 allows towns to negotiate Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) agreements with parties installing alternative energy systems. PILOT projects are a popular and workable way for towns to gain some income from otherwise tax exempt projects. Passing this law has eliminated that option.
Second, by threatening increased taxes on farm-based methane generation systems, Mendon discourages the installation of waste management systems which reduce water pollution and turn waste into energy that can be used on site and reduce reliance on fossil fuels.
Finally, and perhaps most important, the town is sending a message to the rest of the world that Mendon is comfortable living in the past and has no interest in promoting a sustainable future.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE –
Democratic Candidates for Town Board
Pledge Transparency and Improved Representation and Quality of Life
Mendon, New York – May 22, 1017 – Voters in the Town of Mendon will have well-defined options this November when casting their ballots for the Town Board.
The Mendon Democratic Committee is proud to endorse two strong candidates for the Board: Terry Daniele and Erin Kehaley-Corr. Both bring impressive credentials, fresh perspectives, and a commitment to listening to and truly representing Mendon voters on the issues that are most important to them.
Their goal is to bring transparency to the considerations and decisions of a Board that lacks the spirited discussion possible when members aren’t beholden to single-party leadership and dedicated to perpetuating the status quo.
“We believe that residents should have a much clearer idea of where their tax dollars are being spent and the direction our Town is heading,” Ms. Daniele affirms. “Too often, issues come to light only after the monies have been allocated, without the open discussion that invites and encourages residents to raise their voices in agreement or protest.”
“Our Town Board should not reflect the single-party politics we’re witnessing nationwide—a closed system that focuses on the good of the few rather than the will of the many,” Ms. Kehaley-Corr states.
Other issues of key concern to the candidates are improved and expanded recreational facilities for our youth, especially teens, and an investigation into the handling of wastewater and resultant pollution that are of significant concern to residents of the Hamlet and those downstream on Irondequoit Creek. All of these issues speak to Daniele’s and Kehaley-Corr’s dedication to improving representation and quality of life for all Town residents.
An entrepreneur from the start, Terry Daniele bought MELB Skating and Sound Inc. at age 19 and ran it successfully for 13 years while pursuing a degree in sign language interpretation from RIT and, in her 20s and early 30s, operating a successful bar and grill. She served as lead interpreter for the deaf at Monroe #2 BOCES from 1998 to 2014 and now is a privately contracted sign language interpreter who also mentors individuals new to the field. Terry has been a Mendon resident since April 2012, is happily married to retired attorney Anthony Daniele and has two adult children.
“I would like to play a more active role in the betterment of our community and am proud to have been selected to run for Town Board,” Terry states. “I have the skills, experience and open mindset to be an effective representative, and I pledge to work tirelessly on behalf of everyone who calls Mendon home.”
(pictured: Erin Kehaley-Corr and Terry Daniele)
Erin Kehaley-Corr has been a Mendon resident for 33 years and still lives in the home that she helped design and build. Both of her daughters were educated in the HFL school system.
After graduating from Rochester Institute of Technology with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, she began working for Xerox Corporation, where she currently manages multi-million-dollar global IT projects.
Erin is passionate about the rural character of our community and about protecting our environment. “The Mendon community, an excellent school system and the beauty of the rural character it affords its residents are some of the things that drew me to choose Mendon as my home,” she says. “That, a reasonable tax rate, and an opportunity for small businesses to grow and flourish are what will continue to draw others to our area.
“As Mendon continues to grow, it is important to have diverse perspectives represented on the Town Board,” she continues. “I believe that being around people who are different from us makes us more creative, more diligent and harder-working. I look forward to the opportunity to give back and serve the community that has given so much to me.”
For more information or to learn how you can become more involved in politics at the local level—in an active role or behind the scenes, please contact Mendondems2008@gmail.com.
You may use this link https://secure.actblue.com/contribute/page/ny-27-2018-democratic-nominee-fund-1 to donate to the congressional race for our district. All funds will be kept in reserve to be donated to the eventual Democratic nominee.