Newburgh mayor candidate’s own tax bill debunks his tax-increase claim

City taxes on Jonathan Jacobson’s Pierces Road condo in Newburgh were $238 less this year than in 2012, but the mayoral candidate has been charging ahead with a not-quite-new and largely untrue claim that the taxes people pay have literally risen 23 percent since incumbent Mayor Judy Kennedy took office.

Now Kennedy is pushing back hard, holding a press conference last Friday and emailing materials to debunk Jacobson’s assertion, which erroneously implies that a property owner’s tax bill will rise at the same percent as the rate increase.

“Mr. Jacobson claims to be experienced. But his experience is that of a party boss who makes deals and runs campaigns,” said Kennedy, who herself is paying $1,166 more in city taxes than she did in 2012 for her primary residence on Grand Street.

“He appears not to know much about running a city – or if he does, he has chosen to get elected by perpetrating a big lie.”

In a letter to voters dated July 29, Jacobson writes that “taxes have risen 23%” since Kennedy was sworn in as mayor in 2012.

Newburgh’s overall tax levy – the total amount of taxes assessed on all the city’s property owners – has remained relatively flat. But because the combined assessed values of all city properties continue to plummet, the city has increased the tax rate by 23 percent just to raise the same amount of money.

Some property owners like Kennedy will still pay more even if their assessments have gone down because the tax rate increase is greater than the assessment decrease. Her Grand Street property is assessed at roughly 4 percent less than it was in 2012, far below the increase in tax rate.

Other property owners will enjoy a smaller bill, but only because their property values have gone down by more than the 23 percent tax-rate increase.

Take Jacobson’s property, for instance.

In 2012 he was billed $2,597.11 in city taxes based on an assessed value of $166,100 and a tax rate of $15.64 for every $1,000 of that value.

Jacobson’s tax bill increased by about 10 percent the next year, when the city’s tax rate rose by 14 percent. But his bill fell in 2014 and 2015, even as the tax rate increased, because the assessed value on his property fell to $122,700, or 26 percent less than then 2012 value.

Still, at a candidates’ forum on Monday, Jacobson confidently re-asserted the claim, drawing jeers from some people in the audience. Asked about the claim on Wednesday, he refused to back off and centered his criticism on the continued erosion of Newburgh’s tax base.

“She’s bragging that our tax base is less and I’ve had to increase the rate,” he said. “I’m saying that tax rate has gone up, therefore taxes have increased.”

In a letter to voters dated July 29, Jacobson writes that “taxes have risen 23%” since Kennedy was sworn in as mayor in 2012.

Newburgh’s overall tax levy – the total amount of taxes assessed on all the city’s property owners – has remained relatively flat. But because the combined assessed values of all city properties continue to plummet, the city has increased the tax rate by 23 percent just to raise the same amount of money.

Some property owners like Kennedy will still pay more even if their assessments have gone down because the tax rate increase is greater than the assessment decrease. Her Grand Street property is assessed at roughly 4 percent less than it was in 2012, far below the increase in tax rate.

Other property owners will enjoy a smaller bill, but only because their property values have gone down by more than the 23 percent tax-rate increase.

Take Jacobson’s property, for instance.

In 2012 he was billed $2,597.11 in city taxes based on an assessed value of $166,100 and a tax rate of $15.64 for every $1,000 of that value.

Jacobson’s tax bill increased by about 10 percent the next year, when the city’s tax rate rose by 14 percent. But his bill fell in 2014 and 2015, even as the tax rate increased, because the assessed value on his property fell to $122,700, or 26 percent less than then 2012 value.

Still, at a candidates’ forum on Monday, Jacobson confidently re-asserted the claim, drawing jeers from some people in the audience. Asked about the claim on Wednesday, he refused to back off and centered his criticism on the continued erosion of Newburgh’s tax base.

“She’s bragging that our tax base is less and I’ve had to increase the rate,” he said. “I’m saying that tax rate has gone up, therefore taxes have increased.”

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    Chris McKenna covers Orange County government and politics for the Times Herald-Record. He has been a reporter at the newspaper since 1999. Read Full
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