By RICK MANZELLA
At the June 12 meeting of the Town of Portland the room was filled with town residents who are in the Fredonia school district.
Their grievance is the town's equalization rate - 54 percent and has been going down - when used to calculate the school tax rate. This rate - down from 62 percent the previous year - while having an effect on all school districts within the town, had a bigger effect on their taxes.
When officials at Real Property were asked why and how to fix it, the answer was "Do a reval for the town and bring everyone to 100 percent." Sounds simple, until the cost of this comes into play. It is estimated that we would have to raise the tax rate 30 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation for three years just to do a reval. When 100 percent is achieved there is a cost to remain at 100 percent.
The town was at 100 percent at one time. The rate eroded because of cost, what neighboring communities were doing and having faith that equalization rate would perform as intended, but are finding out, it's not.
In my opinion the real property tax system is regressive as it penalizes those who keep their property up. It is a good example of government getting too big. It needs to be reformed and become more transparent or scrapped and find some other way to raise money for schools and government.
There were several comments made at the meeting, like "maybe it's time we vote with our feet." We all know what that means.
We certainly do not want people leaving. The town has a lot to offer. The lakefront being a great asset, the escarpment offering a different view of the lake and everything in between. It's a great place to live.
Rick Manzella is a Portland Town Board member.