Watkins will deal with revenue error
WATKINS GLEN—Watkins Glen Mayor Mark Swinnerton said the village may face a shortfall in sales tax revenue due to a 2010 miscalculation.
Tom Bloodgood, director of the Schuyler County Real Property Tax Agency, explained an error in calculation resulted in Watkins receiving an estimated $30,000 more than it should have. Watkins Glen Clerk Donna Beardsley said in 2010 the village received $266,077.80 as its portion of the sales tax revenue; The estimated $30,000 overpayment is included in that number.
At the Monday, Nov. 7, Watkins village board meeting, Swinnerton said Schuyler County alerted the village to a sales tax calculation mistake, Oct. 26, and was told to follow-up with County Treasurer Maggie Starbuck and Bloodgood.
Swinnerton said a letter from Bloodgood explained that the sales tax is apportioned to each village and town in the county based on the value of real property located in each municipality. Swinnerton said the issue arose because numbers in the 2010 sales tax calculation became switched, which resulted in a higher payout to the village than it otherwise would have received.
Swinnerton said the error may affect the 2012 sales tax payment to the village to correct the 2010 mistake. However, he said, “we don’t know the details. We know there was an error in the calculation.”
“I’m not willing to commit to a figure until I get written comment from the county,” said Swinnerton.
Starbuck said the county has not discussed how to resolve this miscalculation. O’Hearn said, “the treasurer would have to remedy it.”
Ambiguity persists regarding what exactly went wrong, but Bloodgood wrote that the error could have been avoided with better quality assurance measures. Swinnerton said he attempted to contact the treasurer but has yet to receive a response. Swinnerton expressed displeasure that he had not heard back from Starbuck on a “sensitive issue” that the village “has already budgeted.”
When asked, Bloodgood said he was not aware of the sales tax revenue being miscalculated for other villages or towns.
In other business:
• The board accepted the resignation of Trustee Gregory Coon who cited personal and business reasons in his resignation letter. Swinnerton said the board “appreciates [Coon’s] years of service to the community and understand his need to resign.” It is up to Swinnerton whether to fill the trustee seat left by Coon’s resignation or leave it vacant until the next election. He said that he would be discussing the situation with the board and would like to determine possible candidates before making that determination.
• The Watkins Glen board voted to authorize a Functional Consolidation and Shared Services Study to “assess the cost savings, which may result from consolidating shared municipal services.” The study will evaluate the potential cost savings of consolidating the Watkins Glen Police Department with Schuyler County.
The cost of the study could be paid in large part by state grants. The board maintained that this is not a resolution to consolidate the Police Department, it is only “for the purpose of completing a costs services study to assess cost savings.” The cost savings being studied are those that are associated with consolidating the Police Department and entering into a shared services agreement with the county. The board did not give a timeframe for when a final decision may be made on consolidation or when they anticipated the study would be completed.