DeWitt's dilemma: Factory closings hit tax base

As property owners in towns throughout Onondaga County brace themselves for big tax hikes, homes and businesses in DeWitt could be especially hard hit.

According to figures provided by the Onondaga County Legislature, if County Executive Joanie Mahoney's proposed budget is enacted as is, property taxes in DeWitt would increase by 32 percent. But the town is also facing a potentially large loss of tax base over the next few years, mainly because of the loss of the town's manufacturing base.

DeWitt Supervisor Ed Michalenko tells CNY Central's Jim Kenyon, "Manufacturing has been a strong hold and in the recent decade there's been a tremendous decline in that. It's obviously hurt our tax base."

This is the dilemma DeWitt is facing.

The town has negotiated a five year tax reduction plan for the New Process Gear plant, which will close in 2012.

The town expects Carrier will try to have its taxes reduced because of the demolition of three former manufacturing buildings.

Michalenko also expects Bristol-Myers Squibb will attempt to lower its taxes after it tears down up to 11 factory buildings.

On top of that, Shoppingtown Mall is in court trying to have its $60 million tax assessment cut in half.

Michalenko says despite keeping DeWitt's operating budget at about $15,400,000 for the past three years, "we're likely to see an increase in our tax rate" for 2011.