BELOW ARE RESPONSES TO QUESTIONS THAT WERE RAISED AT THE JUNE 19, 2017 MEETING. WHILE IN MANY INSTANCES ANSWERS WERE PROVIDED AT THE MEETING. THE RESPONSES BELOW PROVIDE MORE DETAIL OR EXPAND UPON ANSWERS PROVIDED AT THE MEETING. SOME OF THE QUESTIONS WILL REQUIRE ADDITIONAL INVESTIGATION, WHICH MAY RESULT IN UPDATING THE ANSWERS/INFORMATION PROVIDED. CHECK THE CITY’S WEBSITE AND LINK FOR UPDATED INFORMATION.
ADDED AUGUST 2017 (ITALIC)
OUR GOAL IN RESPONDING TO ALL QUESTIONS REGARDING SUCCESSION FROM VERNON IS TO PROVIDE ANSWERS THE BEST WE COULD WITH THE UNDERSTANDING THAT FUTURE COMMISSIONS AND/OR BOARDS WOULD HAVE TO DELIBERATE AND POSSIBLE ACT TO SPECIFICALLY ADDRESS CERTAIN MATTERS. UNFORTUNATELY, SOME QUESTIONS COULD NOT BE ANSWERED CONCLUSIVELY BECAUSE IT DEPENDED ON ACTIONS OF THOSE COMMISSIONS OR BOARDS.
Q: What is the time schedule for succession?
A: There is no definitive time table. However, the Sherrill City Commission goal is to reach a decision by the end of 2017.
Q: What causes Vernon to be held responsible for Bridges?
A: When the State designated Sherrill as a City in 1916 it set forth that the Town continue certain responsibilities. I.E. collection of liquor tax, maintenance of bridges, taking care of the poor etc. Over time most of those requirements either no longer exist or have become the responsibility of other levels of government. It is Sherrill opinion that the Town is responsible to maintain the following bridges which are located wholly in the City:
- Elmwood St.
- Kinsley St
- Sherrill Rd. at Park
- Park St. at Sherrill Rd.
- Betsinger Rd.
Q: Cost for Bridge Replacement and/or Repair?
A: Each bridge replacement project is different, to provide an estimated cost for repair or replacement would not be possibly. However, when major work such as bridge replacement is undertaken, frequently other funding sources available from the Federal and State governments to reduce local share. Sherrill has received NYSDOT reports for the bridges on Elmwood, Kinsley Streets and Sherrill Rd and Park. NYSDOT does not conduct inspection of the Betsinger Rd. road bridge. Sherrill will meet with NYSDOT to review the inspection reports to determine general condition and to inquire about funding that might be available for major repairs or replacement. Historically, looking back at local cost, in 1985, relative to the Kinsley Street bridge, Sherrill records indicate that Sherrill allocated $5,610.42 (Highway) and the Town Vernon $9,850 (Bridge).
Q: Would Sherrill become responsible for School Property Taxes that are not paid?
A: Sherrill is investigating that possibility.
ADDED AUGUST 2017: The simple answer is yes. However, the City would ask the State to relieve Sherrill of that responsibility, since the Oneida County is the government currently responsible for reimbursement of delinquent property tax payment to the school district.
Q: How much in back taxes for school?
A: In 2017, the amount of school taxes that were re-levied (not paid) was approximately $240K. Many of these same properties are delinquent on their City property tax payments as well.
Below is an overview of how the City administers City property taxes that are not paid:
A lien is placed on property that City property taxes are unpaid, within the allotted period. Once a lien is placed the property cannot be sold or transferred before the City is made whole for all outstanding liens. A lien can also be placed for unpaid water and/or sanitary sewer charges. If property taxes, water and sewers charges remain unpaid for three years. The City then has the right to take the property and sell it to recover back taxes, charges plus penalties and interest. Further, if at year three the property owner wants to retain their property before the City seizes it, ALL amounts owed must be paid.
Q: Will the City make up the lack of funding to the Organizations?
A: Sherrill has a long history of support for many organization based in Sherrill. This support has been both monetarily from Sherrill’s annual budget and by support of City employees. These groups while physically located within the boundaries of Sherrill serve many inhabitants of the Town as well. Should Sherrill secede hopefully the Town recognizes the quality of life benefits these organizations provide and would continue their funding. Should the Town refuse to fund organizations, a future City Commission would determine if additional funding to offset Town funds would be provided.
Q: Are we creating barriers with succession?
A: We would hope not. Sherrill believes it has a good relationship with the Town, it simple feels that the economics of that association is significantly imbalanced. Whether Sherrill secedes or not it hopes to continue partnering with the Town to deliver effective and efficient services to our communities. This is consistent with other partnerships Sherrill has with Oneida for animal control, for years we provided trash removal for the Village of Vernon, Sherrill/Kenwood Volunteer Fire Department services a portion of Vernon outside of Sherrill and Sherrill provides and receives back up from Public Safety agencies. Sherrill also stands ready to expand shared services dealings with anyone when it makes sense for all parties. We are hopeful the Town will see it the same way.
Q: In previous discussions with the Town, did Vernon embrace?
A: It is hopeful the Town Board would support Sherrill’s decision. However, Sherrill cannot represent realistically what the members of Town Board current position is regarding succession. The only public indication was given by the Town Supervisor at the June 19th meeting. Sherrill has requested the Town Board take formal action but have not done so at this point.
Q: Is the Town of Vernon in favor of succession?
A: Sherrill cannot answer for the Town. To paraphrase what the Town Supervisor Watson said at the June 19th meeting, this hasn’t been brought to a vote of the Town Board, but speaking for myself, I do not want succession to happen. It would be a slap in the face of the Town.
Q: Who pays for things if the City secedes? Does Sherrill have to come up with the extra money? What are we really saving? Can Vernon lower its tax by consolidating?
A: There would be an increase in some annual expenses (bridges) and possible loss in revenue currently received by the City (Town Contribution to the City for the CAC). However, those expenses and loss revenue would not approach the $134,000 plus property owners will provide to the Town in 2017. The Town Board would be the one to answer if their property taxes would change.
Q: What does the Town lose?
A: The largest impact for the Town, in the opinion of Sherrill, is the loss of Town General and Highway property taxes it levies to property owners in Sherrill.
Q: Did Vernon lose anything base when properties were annexed into the Sherrill over the years?
A: It lost government oversite, that responsibility transferred to Sherrill once properties were annexed in. The Town could provide input when a State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) was required The Town did gained property tax revenue when real property improvements were made. The largest improvements were residential in nature. Noteworthy however, is that the residential development would not have occurred to the level it did without access to Sherrill utilities. I.E Water and Sanitary sewer Access to these systems was a direct result of annexation.
Q: If Sherrill secedes what will Vernon lose?
A: The property tax revenue (General and Highway) generated by Sherrill properties would be lost.
Q: Is Sherrill putting a financial burden on the town if it secedes?
A: That is a question the Town would have to answer?
Q: What percentage of (property) taxes does Vernon collect from Sherrill?
A: Based on Sherrill’s calculation, the City is approximately 38% of the Towns Property Tax levy.
Q: Is there a belief that Sherrill will get more sales tax by succeeding?
A: We did inquire and it is our understanding sales tax distribution is not changed should the City secede from the Town.
Q: How much has it cost so far to consider succeeding? How much more? Could we still have NY State say “No” and spend additional money trying to succeed?
A: Thus far costs have been for City personnel fundamental legal research. The City has also been in contact with County, State agencies as well an organization Sherrill is a member. Sherrill intends to meet with our State representatives before full committing to succession. Should the City Commission determine that it will move forward outside professional service most likely will be need. I.E legal, engineering
It is likely that Sherrill, if it moves forward with succession will need service of outside professionals.
Q: Bottom line, what is the number of expenses/savings?
A: Using the figures provided by the town, amounts that are still to be confirmed. Since 2012 Sherrill Properties have been billed over $322,000 more than funds or services expended in Sherrill. This amount represents funds paid directly to organizations such as the Sherrill/Kenwood Library and Youth sports leagues.
Q: What are the benefits to the town of Sherrill succeeds?
A: Mainly It would no longer be responsible for the maintenance of bridges and preparation of that portion of the Property Tax Roll represented by Sherrill.
Q: Is there an opportunity to further discuss with Vernon?
A: Yes, from Sherrill’s perspective. The relationship between the Sherrill and Vernon has a community discussion as far back as 1985 and possibly before then. This current dialog was started by Sherrill in 2015.
Q: Is there a planned dialogue moving forward?
A: Not yet. However, Sherrill would welcome meaningful dialog with the Town. Sherrill has been driving the dialog thus far unfortunately without significant feedback from the Town.
Q: Are there any other Cities in the country that are in similar situations as Sherrill/Vernon? City in town.
A: It is our understanding that Sherrill is the only City of 62 Cities located within a Town in New York State. There may be others in the Country, regardless, Sherrill is governed by New York State.
Q: What has Sherrill not been able to do by being part of Vernon?
A: The Town, for all intent, does not have governance over properties in Sherrill. They do not have jurisdiction for Codes, Planning, DPW, Public Safety ETC. They do maintain a Property Tax roll which is used to levy property taxes for the Town, County and VVS School District.
Q: Does the City of Oneida give to the CAC?
A: The City of Oneida does not contribute to the CAC. However, it was asked several years to help support the expenses associated with Youth Center. They determined that could not support any contribution to Sherrill.
Q: How often are the bridges worked on?
A: The spreadsheet distributed at the meeting shows the amounts expended by the Town over many years. Please note that 2017 funds have not yet been used.
ADDED AUGUST 2017
QUESTIONS RECEIVED AFTER THE JUNE 19TH PUBLIC MEETING
A question was asked regarding the plowing (ice/snow control) of Marble Road if the City seceded from the Town:
Marble Road is owned by Oneida County; therefore, they have the ultimate responsibility to maintain the road. Historically, they contract ice and snow control responsibility to a local jurisdiction, currently in the case of Marble Rd. to the Town of Vernon. Sherrill also has a contract with Oneida County for that stretch of road on West Hamilton past the bridge to Rt. 5.
If the Town were to decide not to renew their agreement, which they could at the end of any contract term, I am confident the City would pick up Marble Rd. as part of its agreement. Even if the City did not the County would provide the service. Be assured Marble Road will be plowed irrespective if the City secedes from the Town.
Question 1: If the City secedes from the Town, will the Commission commit to make up the revenues lost by the library, CAC and pool, etc?
Sherrill has a long history of support for many organization based in Sherrill. This support has been both monetarily from Sherrill’s annual budget and by support of City employees. These groups while physically located within the boundaries of Sherrill serve many inhabitants of the Town as well. Should Sherrill secede hopefully the Town recognizes the quality of life benefits these organizations provide and would continue their funding. Should the Town refuse to fund organizations, a future City Commission would determine if additional funding to offset Town funds would be provided.
Question 2: Is secession expected to lower City taxes? and if so, in what amount? assuming that the Town declines to pay anything for the library, CAC and pool?
The CAC is a short-term agreement and the pool is based on a Town program. Both could be eliminated, regardless if Sherrill separates, by the Town either upon expiration of the agreement or stopping of the program. Do not know the specific method the Library receives its funding from the Town.
However, the City Commission and Administration always attempt to minimizes funding it receives annually from property owners while continuing to provide the quality of life services residents expect and support.
Question 3: if there is secession is there an amount which is anticipated will be saved by individual taxpayers who own a home in the City valued at $100,000, $150,000, $200,000?
The amount being paid by property owners currently to the Town would be eliminated. For example, a property with a taxable value of $100,000 received a 2017 Town Tax Bill of approximately $109.
Question 4: What is the amount of property tax revenue which is currently lost and anticipated to be lost annually by the City as a result of the Oneida Indian settlement? How does the City plan to make up for this loss of revenue?
There is no lost, the Nation as do many others receive property tax exemptions as provided by New York State. The amounts those entail is shown in the City’s annual budget as an Exemption Impact Report. See attached document Titled Assessor’s Report-2017- Current Year File S495 Exemption Impact Report Town Summary (Tentative)
Question 5: What percentage of total taxable real property (non-religious, non-government) in the City is owned by the Oneida Indians?
See in the Exemption Impact Report reference in question 4.
Question 6: If these is secession, what amount does the City anticipate it will need to expend for Assessor services? What is the current cost of those services?
The 2017 budget for Assessing is $12,018. The Town has stated that Sherrill consumes approximately $15,000 of their budget for these services. Should Sherrill secede from the Town it is not expected that the Assessor’s budget would increase by that same amount.
Question 7: What amount do City residents currently contribute of the Town Court in the Town of Vernon?
There is no direct funding provided by Sherrill to the Town for Court operations. City property owners currently account for approximately 38% of the Town’s property tax levy. The amount of those funds attributed to Court operations would be a question for the Town.
Question 8: Does the Town of Vernon maintain any reserve funds dedicated to the repair of bridges in the City of Sherrill? If so, in what amount and do City resident currently contribute to that reserve?
Uncertain if the Town maintains a reserve fund for bridges throughout the Town. The Town has said that the Elmwood bridge will be painted in 2017 at an estimated cost of $75,000. The Town has not indicated how that will be funded.
Question 9: If there is secession, will the City implement a reserve for bridge repair and add this to City tax bills? If so, what amount does the City anticipate will be added annually to City tax bills for such a reserve?
A reserve fund could be established by the City Commission. The funding of it could come from various sources including property taxes.
Question 10: If there is secession, will additional employees be hired by the City to perform maintenance on the bridges? at what anticipated cost?
Current staffing levels at the City can manage expected general maintenance of the bridges. Major repairs or maintenance would most likely be accomplished by outside sources.
Question 11: If there is secession, what will be the cost of experts to advise the City on compliance and maintenance issues relative to the bridges?
The bridges, with exception of Betsinger Rd., that would be taken over are routinely inspected by NYSDOT at no cost to local government.
Question 12: If there is secession, will the cost of the City’s insurance coverage increase to include risks and losses related to the bridges? If so, in what amount?
Minimal increase if any.
NOTE THE ADDITIONAL INFORMATION IS RELEVANT TO QUESTIONS 1,2,4,6,8 &9 LISTED ABOVE.
Bob Comis was the primary author of the responses with input for City Officials and the Commission was provided those responses. Respectfully, we disagree with your characterization of the City’s responses. Our goal in responding to your or anyone’s questions regarding succession from Vernon was to provide answers the best we could with the understanding that future Commissions and/or Boards would have to deliberate and possible act to specifically address certain matters. Unfortunately, some questions could not be answered conclusively because it depended on actions of those Commissions or Boards. I.E. Establishing and funding a Reserve Fund for Bridges. With that backdrop, if the Sherrill Kenwood Library experienced a drastic and unanticipated funding lost resulting from secession, it is my sense that this Commission would do what it could to minimize that impact.
Below is some expanded information to some of the questions raised in your recent email.
Question 1: The information above hopefully provides a better understanding of how future funding would have to be tackled. Reiterating again that past and current City Commissions historically have supported to the Library.
Question 2: If secession did occur, property owners would no longer pay a Town property tax. In 2017 the property tax amount on a house tax valued at $100,000 is approximately $109. If the City lost the Town’s CAC contribution and offset the Town’s contribution to the Library. The City Commission would, as it does during annual budget deliberations look to other means either by reducing other expenses or increasing revenue before it would ask property owners to pay increased property taxes.
Question 4: When asked if a property tax exemption results in lost revenue lost is better explained by the following:
The City as do other property taxing jurisdictions throughout New York State annually provide for funds expected to be collected from property taxes. That amount is then factored by the Taxable Value in the community to determine Tax Rate. When a property receives an exemption, Taxable Value decreases not the revenue expected. In short, exemptions create a ripple effect that causes more property tax to be collected from all other properties.
Specific to the Oneida Indian Nation properties, after the 2013 settlement, the City entered into an agreement with Oneida County that provides funding to the City to offset the revenue lost resulting from exemptions placed on Nation’s properties in Sherrill.
Question 6: Sherrill is preparing estimated cost that could be needed if secession occurs. It is expected that information will be disseminated at the next public meeting.
Questions 8 and 9: The City has obtained and is reviewing the inspection reports from NYSDOT for 4 of 5 bridges Sherrill believes are the Town’s responsibility. Depending on the needs of the bridges, the City would provide funding either in its annual appropriations, create a reserve fund or bond. Given the amounts the Town indicated it has spent in previous years most likely the funding was provided as a general appropriation in their annual budget. We will ask the Town how the $75,000 expected to be spent for the Elmwood bridge is being funded. Please note, that Sherrill generally will not use funds from an established Reserve Account or bonding for work that either does not have a substantial cost and/or does not have a long-term use expediency. I.E cleaning a bridge.