10:22am

Thu October 24, 2013
The Upstate Economy

Off the rolls: 27% of land in New York is tax exempt

More than a quarter of all property in New York state is off the tax rolls, according to figures compiled by the state comptroller, who said it's a burden on local finances.

The 27 percent of un-taxed land in the state adds up to $680 billion in property value not being collected on, which is mostly concentrated in urban areas. The city with the most property off-limits is Rensselaer, with 65 percent.

In Syracuse, where Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli released his report Wednesday, 51 percent of property is tax exempt. That’s made up mostly of universities and hospitals and properties that get tax break incentives for economic development.

"We have a uniform structure that incents the kind of behavior that we want, chief among that sustainability, LEED certification; economic development that [moves] to the benefit of the city," Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner said.

DiNapoli praised Miner for her work squeezing some dollars out of non-profits.

"Even though these are tough questions, thorny issues, there are some creative solutions that are happening at the local level," he said. "How can we elevate the discussion, shine the spotlight on those circumstances where there is some good news, there is some progress so other can learn from the experience?"

Miner successfully got Syracuse University and Crouse Hospital to enter into service agreements. They pay an annual fee, $500,000 and $50,000 respectively, for city services. She’s been stiff-armed so far though by the city’s other hospitals and colleges.