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August 26, 2003

Newspapers' study show New York cities have nation's highest property taxes

Seven metropolitan areas in New York State have the highest property tax rates in the nation, according to a new study by the American City Business Journals newspaper chain.

Of the 10 metropolitan areas in the nation with the highest property taxes, seven are in New York State, the study showed. The study used data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

"This study points out the fundamental problem with government in New York -- that it spends too much. That's true at both the state and local levels," said Robert Ward, research director for The Business Council's Public Policy Institute.

Syracuse has the highest property taxes of all metropolitan areas in the nation, the study showed. Syracuse has a median home value of 82,500 and a median property-tax payment of $2,378 or $28.82 in taxes for every $1,000 of home value. That rate is nearly triple the national average of $11.15 per $1000, the study concluded.

The report also found that Louisiana has the nation's lowest property taxes. That state exempts homeowners from paying any taxes on the first $75,000 of their property's value.

The Business Council and its research affiliate, The Public Policy Institute, have long argued that New York's above-average property tax burden is a pressing competitive disadvantage.

"The disparity between our property tax burden and the U.S. average adds up to $8.4 billion, by far our biggest competitive disadvantage," The Institute argued in a December 2002 report in its Budget Watch '03 series. That series of reports documented the connection between excessive government spending and the fiscal woes facing government in New York.

The report also pointed out that local spending in the last decade increased even as state aid to localities went up 10.3 percent.

"If there's a big increase in state aid, that tends to fuel more spending-rather than reduce the local property-tax levy," the report said.

American City Business Journals (ACBJ), the nation's largest publisher of metropolitan business newspapers, publishes business newspapers in some 40 of the nation's largest metropolitan areas. Business First of Buffalo and the Business Review in Albany are part of the chain.

Budget Watch is available in PDF format from www.ppinys.org/bwatch03.htm.