Village, county discuss revenue sharing options
YATES COUNTY—Penn Yan Mayor Bob Church spoke along with village Trustees David Reeve and Michael Christensen about the possibility of sharing tax revenue with municipalities during the Yates County finance committee meeting Tuesday, Aug. 6. Church said the village, along with many other municipalities in the county, are struggling because the county does not share property, sales or occupancy tax with any of them.
Church said the recent discussion has come about due to the fact there could possibly be two more hotels built in the village within the next few years. Church said while the additional development is good for the community, it does not really benefit the village because they see no revenue from it, yet they still have to provide the services to the new buildings. Reeve agreed, saying there is no relationship between business activity and revenue to the village.
“While in discussions with one of the developers, when I said to him the county does not share sales or occupancy tax with the village, he looked me right in the eye and asked me, ‘Then why do you want to do this?’” Church said.
Christensen said if the county is unwilling to help the village sometime in the near future, then “[The village] will start the process of creating our own occupancy tax in the village of Penn Yan.”
While Church said 40 percent of the village is tax exempt, Chairman Tim Dennis said there are other municipalities in the county that have a higher percent than Penn Yan. Dennis said if the county were to share with one municipality, they would have to do so with all towns and villages in the county. Reeve, Church and Christensen all agreed they would not have a problem with county-wide sharing of revenue.
“In our heads, we want success, but when you look at it from the point-of-view of the village there is absolutely no return here,” Church said.
Dennis said the county financial situation is “no secret,” and asked where the money would come from if they started sharing revenue with all municipalities. Church said the county would not be losing money, but sharing the increased revenue from the hotels.
Focusing exclusively on the property tax aspect of the request, most of the legislature agreed it would be worth looking into.
“If we want this whole community...to grow and flourish then we all have to take a giant leap of faith and start working together,” Legislator Rick Willson said.
The legislators also agreed to begin discussion on the sharing of sales and occupancy tax revenue. Legislator Rob Multer said the discussion has been going on since 1974, with some municipalities finding out they would actually end up losing money from paying higher county taxes than the revenue they would bring in. Legislator Leslie Church agreed on the potential formation of a committee of legislators and town representatives to discuss the issue, saying “the onus should be on the county to step forward with an idea as well, not just the towns.”