Tax mutiny in Guilderland

September 19, 2017 07:18 PM

GUILDERLAND - You probably have a pretty good idea what went through Chuck Stuber's mind when he sat down at his dining room table to compare last year's school tax bill to the one he just got in the mail, and realized he has to pay more than a thousand dollars beyond what he paid last year.

"I did some calculating and lo and behold my taxes went up 29 percent," he said, "To say I'm unhappy would be an understatement."

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Stuber realizes he's not alone. It seems everyone he knows who lives in the Weatherfield development off Route 155 in Guilderland is in the same boat.

The Voorheesville School District sent a letter to all of their taxpayers this week recognizing people's concerns, acknowledging the inequity, but also stating it's beyond their control.

"It's an embarrassment, I think, to state government that this is happening," said Guilderland Supervisor Peter Barber.

Barber, a Democrat, says the tax hike for certain residents is happening on the school tax side, not the property tax side. He points out Guilderland property taxes have remained unchanged for 18 years.

Barber blames what he describes as a "confusing and archaic" process that sets the equalization rate, which is overseen by a small state agency.

"What's incredibly frustrating about this process is that we have no control over it," Barber says, "We're collecting the tax, but the equalization rate itself is set by this small state agency."

Barber says the the town has actually tried to fight the process, but when they did, he believes he had a front row seat to an embarrassment.

"It was a kangaroo court at best," he said, "It was pretty surreal to have every single judge say, 'You're right, this process is flawed, but it's the process that we use, too bad.' And basically we're going to sustain what the state wants to do."

Stuber is a combat veteran and because the tax exemption he got for that distinction last year appears to have been reduced significantly, that would account for his 29 percent increase this year.

A large crowd was expected at Tuesday night's Guilderland Town Board meeting, which began at 7:30. 


Dan Levy

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