BARKER — Somerset Operating Company will go from being a PILOT payer to a regular taxpayer in Barker Central School District's 2020-2021 fiscal year.
To see the impact on all taxpayers in the district's proposed budget, which is up for a yes-or-no vote by district residents in the June 9 election, you have to sort of read between the lines.
On paper, the tax levy, that is, the sum to be raised from all property taxpayers districtwide, is increasing by about 40% over the 2019-2020 tax levy.
That does not mean the tax rate is going up by an equivalent amount, though.
When all is said and done, according to Superintendent Jacob Reimer, the effect of the district's proposed $17.2 million budget is a 1.47% increase for all property taxpayers.
The year-over-year levy increase appears outsized because it includes an estimate of the taxes that Somerset Operating Company will pay per $1,000 of assessed property value, which it hasn't done in years. Previously, the now-closed power plant made an annual Payment In Lieu of Taxes to the district — last year's PILOT was $1.7 million — and that money was budgeted as PILOT income, not tax income, and therefore not included in the tax levy.
On the Town of Somerset's 2020 tentative assessment roll, the parcels that make up Somerset Operating Company's 1,800-acre spread on Lake Road are assessed for $100.5 million.
The school district, in its proposed budget, projected overall spending will decrease by about $18,000 in the coming year. Some expenses were cut but programs for students were not, Reimer said.
"Our programs are staying identical, that was the whole goal of this budget," he said. "(It) was to give the best possible education and not have any impact on the programs we have for the kids."