Tax flaw is found

Calculation error leads to tax ‘increase’

Granville School District officials announced Monday the suspension of school tax collection due to an error calculating the recently mailed bills. School tax collector Rose Cary used the wrong equalization rate when computing the tax bills, resulting in smaller bills for Granville taxpayers, officials said.

The error was discovered by a taxpayer and confirmed by Cary who alerted district officials. “Unfortunately that one error has a domino effect and impacts the tax rates of all four towns and all of the tax bills have to be redone,” interim Superintendent Dr. Greg Aidala said. The school district tax levy, the amount of school funding raised through taxes, remains $6.56 million.

Collection will be suspended for the week beginning Sept. 14 while officials wait for the corrected tax bills to come in from the Washington County Office of Real Property. School tax collection will resume Sept. 21. “Rose regrets her error; we apologize for the inconvenience and confusion that might result and are committed to making it right,” business manager Cathy Somich said.

The district posted copies of the letter at TD Banknorth to alert taxpayers to the problem and plans to send a letter to taxpayers with the new bills.

The immediate impact will be a higher tax bill for Granville residents. The rate, however, remains lower than the 2008-2009 tax cycle. A taxpayer with a $100,000 residence will pay an additional $26.18 in Granville, Aidala said.

Taxes in Granville still drop, just not by as much. With the lower incorrect rate taxes dropped 3.42 percent from the previous year. The correct tax rate causes taxes to drop 1.97 percent from the previous year.

As a result taxes will drop further in Hampton, Hebron and Whitehall for 2009-2010.

Taxpayers with $100,000 houses in Hampton, Hebron and Whitehall will see an additional $57.67 reduction to their tax bills.

Aidala said the checks have not been cashed from residents who have already paid. They will receive their checks back to allow them to pay the correct amount with one payment. Aidala said the wrong equalization rate had been used when creating the tax bills, causing Granville’s portion of the tax levy to be smaller than it should have been.

The rate used, 82 percent, should have been 77.51 percent, he said. The initial tax rate of $17.36 rose to $17.62 per $1,000 of assessed value.

“Human error does occur but the important points are that we be transparent and forthright in taking immediate corrective action. We regret the mistake and apologize to the community,”Aidala said.

Aidala said the deadline for paying taxes will be extended as a result with Oct. 19 the new deadline.

Taxpayers with questions can call Aidala at 642-1051, extension 1310; Somich at extension 1302 or Cary at extension 1304.

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