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Williamsville mayor warns against 'stealth tax' from reassessment

Properties in the Village of Williamsville saw some of the largest increases in the Town of Amherst's current reassessment, but that doesn't have to mean an equal spike in taxes.

That's up to elected officials who set the tax levy, and therefore the tax rate.

Williamsville Mayor Brian Kulpa

Williamsville Mayor Brian J. Kulpa said property value growth from a reassessment should be accompanied by a decrease in the property tax rate.

"As long as that happens then it's OK to have the assessment growth," he said. "What you want to avoid is the 'stealth tax.'"

The so-called "stealth tax" is when a board uses the growth in taxable assessed value that comes from a reassessment as an opportunity to spend more money.

"You should never see an impact just based on a full reassessment," Kulpa said at this week's Village Board meeting. "Your taxes should be moderated by a reduction in tax rate. But, again, you and I both know there's plenty of municipalities that absorb the 'stealth tax' of the reassessment. So we have to be vigilant that we don't make that mistake, and we hope that the Town of Amherst and school districts will think likewise."

Village officials are working on the budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, but it won't be affected by the new assessments.

"This assessment and the budget we're currently working on are not stitched at the hip," Kulpa said. "The assessment won't go into effect in the village until June 2018."

The village's Board of Trustees holds a budget meeting at 6 p.m. tonight at Village Hall, 5565 Main St. The village's 2016-2017 budget has total expenditures of about $5 million among the general, water and sewer funds. The budget is expected to be approved by the end of April.

"We're fighting like mad to stay under the tax cap this year," Kulpa said. "I think we'll be pretty close to that and that should return a tax rate decrease. That'll be three years in a row of tax rate decreases, which does account for some growth in the levy."

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