Frequently Asked Questions

WE WILL CUT PROPERTY TAXES IN HALF – FOR EVERYONE

THE PROBLEM

New York and Monroe County have some of the highest taxes in the nation. This burdens lower and middle class households. It also impacts the willingness of businesses and citizens to move here.

The City of Rochester faces unique challenges in regard to property taxes, because its tax base has shrunk, due to the decline of major employers and flight to the suburbs. People with choices are choosing not to locate in the city. The city cannot raise more revenue from citizens whose household incomes are far below that of the region.

For existing homeowners, high property taxes make it more difficult to pay the mortgage and make needed repairs. The tax burden also depresses their home values. Declining property values and an unwillingness to invest in improvements leads to abandoned houses and deteriorating neighborhoods.

There is evidence city households need relief. More than one in four homeowners in the city pays more than 30 percent of their income in housing costs, which is considered “burdened.” Half of city homeowners earn less than $51,000, far less than the median income for homeowners countywide.

The tax burden also impacts renters, as landlords pass along property taxes to their tenants. The median income for rental households in the city is less than $22,000. Sixty percent of rental households pay more than 30 percent of their income in housing costs.

The bottom line is property taxes disproportionately impact the poor. But they also impact the decisions of those who have choices about where to invest their money. Seeing low home prices, prospective homeowners may worry about the security of their investment and the strength of the neighborhood. They may also worry taxes could go up over time, further eroding their housing investment.

Businesses fit into the equation, too. For proof property taxes are too high, look at just about every large development in Rochester. They get property tax breaks. Developers won’t invest without incentives. That means wealthy interests get special treatment, while regular homeowners continue to pay the same high tax rates without building substantial wealth.

This system is not sustainable. We will never improve neighborhoods, attract new families and grow jobs if we keep doing the same things over and over.

THE SOLUTION

We will cut property taxes for everyone by 50 percent.

Homeowners and landlords will have the cash to make needed repairs or improvements. Senior citizens and families will be able to remain in their homes without worrying about huge tax bills. Prospective buyers will be able to afford more expensive homes. Property values will increase.

When the city’s tax rate is half its regional neighbors’, people will buy houses. More renters will be able to buy houses. Businesses will move in, creating jobs. Rochester will suddenly be very competitive. The collective wealth of the region will skyrocket.

This initiative would mean the end of corporate giveaways to the rich in the form of property tax abatements.

The average home in the city is $72,600, with a property tax bill of $1,394. The average homeowner would save $697 a year, money that could make a real difference in the lives of families.

HOW WILL YOU PAY FOR THIS PROPERTY TAX CUT?

We have a plan to fully fund these tax cuts. The key is long range fiscal planning.

The tax cut would not go into effect for three years, after a full reassessment cycle. During that time, the city would put away money into a dedicated fund to replace the revenue. The money could come from state aid, efficiencies, consolidation of the city’s water system and a growing tax base. (The water system is valued at about $200 million. We would need an independent feasibility study of a merger. The city would insist on shared governance.)

With a three-year head start, we will make sure our city is safe from financial hardship. WE WILL NOT CUT SERVICES OR JOBS. In fact, a growing city will need more workers to provide services.

But we won’t have to wait three years to see the benefits. The day the tax cut is passed, property values go up. Businesses and home buyers will immediately take a hard look at Rochester, knowing in three years, their tax liability will decrease.

We can only revitalize our city with bold initiatives, with a plan that puts more dollars in the pockets of every resident and business.

As long as Rochester makes the most economic sense for families and businesses, we will thrive. We can’t afford to keep the status quo. Let’s help residents and businesses – and improve our lives.

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