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Oyster Bay tax hike to cost some more than others

Oyster Bay Town Hall on March 26, 2012.

Oyster Bay Town Hall on March 26, 2012. Credit: Nicole Bartoline

Oyster Bay's 8.8 percent 2015 tax levy increase will mean double-digit hikes for some homeowners, a Newsday analysis shows.

Homeowners' actual property tax increases will vary widely based on where they live and which of the many taxing districts and levies in town apply to their home.

For example, the hike will increase affected levies on Town Supervisor John Venditto's bill for his Massapequa home by 16 percent.

Venditto's 2014 general bill, which the town provided, showed that he paid 19 levies -- including nine town funds and special districts affected by the tax hike. Next year, the nine levies will total $1,824 for Venditto, $251 more than this year.

The 8.8 percent tax levy increase will vary for every property owner because it was calculated using levies on 28 districts and funds over which Oyster Bay has rate-setting control. No single property is affected by all of the levies, and only one levy, the general fund, is paid by all Oyster Bay taxpayers.

Broken down by property class, the 8.8 percent increase translates into an 11.8 percent hike on residential properties, a 7.6 percent increase on commercial properties and a 22.3 percent decrease for utilities.

The levy on utilities is going down because of a legal decision over utilities' taxes for garbage and sanitation districts. Nassau County officials said the county informed Oyster Bay on Oct. 17 that three levies on utilities for garbage and sanitation districts worth $3.6 million would be reduced to zero. The town increased the levies on residential and commercial property in its budget to make up for that lost revenue.

The town board approved the previously unannounced tax hike on Nov. 18 after having proposed a budget that would have kept taxes essentially flat. After the tax hike was approved, officials said the increase would be about $90 for the average homeowner.

"Everyone's situation is unique, and the average is 8.8 percent to all taxpayers whether they be homeowners or businesses or utilities or other," said Oyster Bay finance director Robert Darienzo, who did not dispute Newsday's analysis.

For a North Massapequa couple who shared their bill with Newsday, the tax bill will go up $166 -- or 10.6 percent -- to $1,721 in 2015. The county estimated their home to have a market value of $392,000 in 2014 and $372,400 in 2015. Like Venditto's, their 2014 bill showed 19 tax levies, nine of which will be affected by the property tax hike.

A resident of the incorporated village of Bayville with an estimated home market value of $498,000, and who shared his bill with Newsday, pays one levy affected by the increase -- the general fund. The general fund levy for that taxpayer will go up $39.37 to $389.05, an 11.3 percent increase.

Town officials said last month they do not have discretion to adjust rates on individual property classes. County officials said it is done using a formula set by state law.

"We don't have a choice," said Oyster Bay Comptroller Robert McEvoy. "If we do an overall 8.8 percent increase, it falls where it falls based upon the . . . [formulas] that are given to us."

The county has four property classes: two for residential (Class I and II), one for utilities (Class III) and one for commercial (Class IV).

"We can't lower Class I and raise Class IV arbitrarily," McEvoy said. The town sets a levy for each fund or district, and those rates are then adjusted by the formula to achieve the revenue sought, he said.

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