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Village of Lewiston has questions about town tax

by jmaloni
Sat, Jan 7th 2017 07:00 am

Project flowchart/checklist debuts

By Joshua Maloni

Managing Editor

At Monday's municipal work session, Village of Lewiston Mayor Terry Collesano called into question tax bills received from the Town of Lewiston.

The Town Council recently voted to approve a town tax, and the village now owes taxes on its properties. Village residents, likewise, are now subject to the town tax, though they owe only about half of what town residents were billed (.64 cents for every $1,000 of assessed valuation, versus $1.36).

"We have to pay part of that town tax now. We were unaware of that in the village," Collesano said. "I had a call put into Supervisor (Steve) Broderick requesting as to why the village residents have to pay the town tax. He said it would have to fall under the part A fund ... in the town, which is whole town. ... We come under the whole town tax. But I said I can't understand what part of it we have to pay, though, because we pay separately for police protection; we pay separately for sewer, water; and anything that's done between our highway and DPW is done through shared services. There's no money exchanged there.

"So, today, the finance officer, Marti Blazick, from the town, sent into (Village of Lewiston Clerk/Treasurer) Amy (Salada) a listing. We went through the listing, and we found some discrepancies in there."

In particular, the tax bills list the entire town tax levy of $1,045,048. That number includes the general, or A, fund ($545,448) and the highway/drainage-town outside village, or DB, fund ($499,600).

The village, and its residents, are only taxed on the A fund.

Salada said she contacted the town, and, "They said that it could be an error that the county did when they did the bills. ... It's not clear, is the bottom line."

Collesano asked Village of Lewiston counselor Joseph Leone about recourse, should an error be discovered, or if the tax rate was not properly calculated.

Leone said, "You can't not pay your taxes, because it's a lien on your property; interest and so forth is charged. But, if anyone has an issue with it, a tax can always be paid under protest."

Collesano said, "We don't have all the answers yet. It may be correct on the town's part. We're not sure at this point."

He said a meeting would be scheduled with Broderick and Blazick. Collesano asked Leone and Village of Lewiston Deputy Treasurer Edward Walker to participate.

"We can sit down and have some discussions on it," Collesano said. "In the meantime, people who would like to pay their taxes, by all means pay them. But, as our counsel is saying, (pay under protest). That way, if there is any discussion or any doubts, or should they be wrong or incorrect in the way they did it, well, then, there would be a rebate coming back to that person, who signed 'under protest' paying."

On Thursday, Blazick said she agreed the way in which the tax bill was prepared was confusing. But, "The whole town gets taxed."

On the tax bill, under the line "2017 Town Tax," the $1,045,048 listed "is our whole tax levy," Blazick said. "That includes the Highway Department, which they (village residents) don't get. But this tax rate is just the A fund. It's the way the county bill is showing it."

The Village of Lewiston and its residents pay the A fund, "which is the whole town. And those things that benefit the whole town are the ones that go into fund A," Blazick said. "The things that are in fund B, or the highway, for instance - because the village has its own (Department of Public Works) - the highway, as a whole, is outside (of the village's responsibility). However, the highway superintendent, which is voted on by everybody, is required by the office of the comptroller to be in fund A."

Blazick said, "As far as what goes into the A fund budget, there aren't any changes from previous years. It's just because there wasn't a tax before."

Blazick said she would meet with village officials to discuss and review the issue.

Tax bills were mailed out in December. Taxes are to be paid by Jan. 31.

In other news:

•The Village of Lewiston now has a project checklist for applicants intending to modify or construct a building or property.

"We've been asked by the public to provide them checklist flowcharts to help them move through the code to get things approved," Deputy Mayor Bruce Sutherland said. "I can just report now that we have a good input on the village general checklist for people when they come in, to direct them in the right direction. We have a good flowchart from the historical perspective. We're still looking for a flowchart from (the Planning Commission) on signs and etcetera to get things going.

"Major subdivision flowcharts could come further down the line, because most of those people that are doing major subdivisions are major contractors and so forth. And they're very familiar with codes and how to work through the code. ... But we should also eventually have that flowchart.

"We need signs and minor subdivision flowcharts for folks. And Planning is working on that, I hope."

Collesano and Sutherland have recently met with the chairs of the Historic Preservation Commission, the Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals, as well as Zoning Enforcement Officer Edward DeVantier and Building Inspector Ken Candella, in an effort to create a chain of submission requirements.

Meetings were set partially as a result of disagreements between the Planning Commission and HPC as to which board should receive plans first.

The flowchart/checklist indicates projects of historic significance will start with the HPC, which will decide if a project merits a certificate of appropriateness.

The form asks for complete project details and plans. Once it's completed and turned into the clerk's office, a copy will be sent to each board member, and to DeVantier and Candella.

A copy of the flowchart/checklist can be downloaded HERE (PDF).

•Trustees intend to meet with each village festival organizer at their 6 p.m. work session on Monday, Feb. 6.

Board members have repeatedly expressed a desire to get on the same page with festival organizers when it comes to street closings, parking and maintenance/cleanup.

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