October 15, 2008

Tompkins Ranks in Top Five For Most Tax-Exempt Land

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Thirty-nine percent of Tompkins County is tax-exempt, making it one of the five counties in New York State with the most tax-exempt property in 2008. Of the $3.9 billion exempt, $2.7 billion is representative of land occupied by institutions of higher education.
Additionally, the county may see a decrease in its taxable property next year when the coal-burning electric-power plan AES Cayuga, which resides on $142 million of land, will be taken off of the county’s tax roll, according to The Ithaca Journal.
The percentage of taxable property in Tompkins County has fluctuated in recent years. In 2007, 44 percent of property was tax-exempt. More specifically, $2.3 billion worth of property within the City of Ithaca was tax-exempt.[img_assist|nid=32635|title=Tompkins taxed|desc=|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
A New York State law exempts all universities from paying property taxes, Svante Myrick ’09 (D-4th Ward) told The Sun last year. According to Myrick, Cornell’s tax-exempt status has created animosity between the University and the city.
Mary Tomlan ’71 (D-3rd Ward) who represents most of Collegetown and the Cornell campus, said, “Cornell has always been very protective of [its tax exemption], and the city has always been concerned.”
Ithaca Mayor Carolyn Peterson told The Sun in August that she estimates that if the University was subject to property taxes, it would have to pay at least $25-$30 million annually.
This past June the University outlined the first installment of a $20 million pledge to Tompkins County, which will be put toward local housing, infrastructure and transportation improvements.