Technical error discovered in calculation of college chargeback totals to municipalities
Residents will receive corrected tax bills; any overpayments will receive refunds
ERIE COUNTY, NY – The Erie County Division of Budget and Management, in conjunction with the Department of Real Property Tax Services, will be issuing corrected 2020 tax bills to affected residents after a technical error was discovered earlier today in existing tax bills. The bills, which have already been distributed in larger towns countywide, contain a technical error in the amount of college chargebacks each municipality is responsible for. College chargebacks are costs incurred by municipalities when Erie County residents attend community colleges in other counties; the existing 2020 tax bills’ chargeback figure does not reflect measures approved in the 2020 Adopted Erie County Budget that resulted in a lower chargeback cost for municipalities. Residents who have already paid their taxes will receive a refund for the overcharged amount, while those who have not yet paid will receive corrected tax bills to present to their municipal clerks.
Director of Budget and Management Robert Keating said, “Erie County has been absorbing more of the college chargebacks in our budgets in recent years, both as a way to help municipalities with the burden and also to help the county stay under the state-imposed tax cap. This year, a technical error resulted in the omission of legislature-approved measures in the Adopted 2020 Budget to further lower the chargeback total to municipalities, and as a result a higher, incorrect number was included in the 2020 tax bills. When this came to our attention, we acted to correct the error, ensure that all municipalities were aware, and begin the process to remedy any overcharges.”
Erie County has absorbed $12.4 million in chargeback costs in the county budget over the past three years, money which otherwise would have been apportioned to individual municipalities for repayment. For the 2020 Adopted Budget the correct amount of chargebacks to municipalities is $2.7 million, while an incorrect figure of $7.1 million was included in the incorrect tax bills. The total amount overcharged countywide at the time of the error’s discovery was $4.4 million. On average, taxpayers who were overcharged can expect a refund of 6.79 cents per thousand dollars of assessed value.
“We are in contact with the municipalities who have not yet sent out their tax bills to stop the distribution of the incorrect bills where possible and make sure they are aware of the issue. We are in the process of contacting other affected municipalities. We will be printing new tax bills, clearly identified as “Corrected 2020 Tax Bill’, for residents who’ve not yet paid their taxes, and for those who have we will be refunding any overpayment,” Director of Real Property Tax Services Scott Bylewski said. “The Department of Real Property Tax Services is working to make sure the new, correct bills are distributed as soon as possible and that any residents who have already paid their taxes and are owed a refund will receive it expeditiously.”
County workers are working through the weekend to get the correct bills out and are also working with banks and escrow companies that coordinate tax payments for mortgage holders.