By Larry Austin
Island Dispatch Editor
Grand Island Town Board members had praise for two town government departments that helped hundreds of Island property owners save money on their taxes.
At the second Town Board meeting of the year, held Tuesday at Town Hall, councilmembers pointed out the town clerk's office and assessor's office were ahead of the game in meeting residents' desire to prepay their taxes.
President Donald Trump's tax reform package limits the deductibility of state and local taxes (SALT), resulting in a tax increase for New Yorkers. The measure went into effect in 2018. On Dec. 22, 2017, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo issued an emergency executive order authorizing local governments to immediately issue tax warrants for the collection of 2018 property tax payments. The order allowed property owners to pay at least a portion of their bill before the end of the 2017 while under the current tax structure. The SALT deduction is capped to $10,000 under the 2018 Trump tax package.
At the Town Board meeting and reorganization meeting Jan. 2, Councilman Mike Madigan referred to Grand Island as "one of the few who were able to support property tax owners with full compliance with the IRS tax prepayment requirements, reducing their combined taxes by approximately $500,000."
Tuesday, Councilwoman Bev Kinney passed along a "shout out and a thank you that was brought to my attention in an Economic Development Advisory Board meeting."
A resident thanked the town clerk and assessor's offices "for making the process of prepaying his taxes for his home early very painless," Kinney said. "There were a lot of communities that were not prepared and could not do it."
Town Clerk Pattie Frentzel said Grand Island was the only local municipality that had the bills ready for residents. She said approximately 500 people went to Town Hall and paid their state and local taxes ahead, to the tune of about $1.75 million.
"Pattie's office worked really hard to make sure they got everybody's payments in on time and got the work done," Kinney said. "When someone does a good job, we like to say 'Atta girl, atta boy.'"
Madigan chimed in and called the work by the assessor's and town clerk's offices "an excellent job" saying "a minority of towns" statewide were ready to handle the tax payments.
"So it saved literally on the Island hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax money for the residents by being that well organized," Madigan said. "And greatly appreciated, being one of the people that also benefitted. Thank you."
Also Tuesday, during the second meeting of the year, councilmembers said they had buried the hatchet after disputes from their first meeting.
An argument at the first board meeting of the year concerned the town clerk's office, with board members splitting 3-2 on a motion to increase pay for deputies in that department.
Kinney said Tuesday, "Although we did have a bumpy start a couple weeks ago, I had some really good conversations with Pete Marston and Jen Baney this week on a variety of topics and I look forward to working with you guys further this coming year."