County officials to meet with Darien City Council over what they see as a Medicaid tax ‘misunderstanding’

Genesee County Executive Matt Landers and Legislative Speaker Rochelle Stein are set to meet with Darien City Council about what they say is a ‘misunderstanding’ over the practice of including the party Medicaid tax rate on the annual county tax bill.

The situation was brought to the attention of the legislature via a letter dated April 7 from the Darien City Council on behalf of a longtime Darien Center resident who objected to having to pay $2.90 per thousand. of the value of his estimated property for county state Medicaid fees.

The resident wrote to the city council, lamenting that he had to pay $782.14 in taxes for Medicaid, which is on top of the $340 a month he and his wife have already deducted from their Social Security checks for Medicare.

In the letter, he suggested that instead of taxing homeowners “for other people’s Medicaid,” the county could raise the sales tax rate slightly from the current 8% (of which 4% stays in the county). ) to cover the cost.

The city council, in turn, drafted their letter – supporting the resident’s point of view.

“Like most county ratepayers, he (the resident) and his wife do not use programs offered such as HEAP, SNAP, free medical insurance, rent subsidy, county general use cards , etc.”, indicates the letter. “(As the expense only applies to property owners), this burden is not shared equally by all county residents.”

The city council’s letter says an increase in the sales tax from 4 to 4½ percent would generate about $3.1 million a year “and those funds would be directed toward stabilizing the Medicaid tax bill.”

At Wednesday’s Ways and Means Committee meeting, Landers and the Legislature responded to residents’ concerns and Darien City Council’s letter and accompanying resolution authorizing it to be sent to county officials.

Landers noted that the county has broken down the Medicaid portion of the tax rate on its annual bill since 2004 — for informational purposes.

“The county tax bill is split into two lines,” Landers said. “It’s really the total dollar amount – all of the tax deductions, and then we have a line itemized separately for the portion attributable to Medicaid. This was only done as a message to taxpayers to understand what share of their property taxes goes to Medicaid.

He said each year the county uses the same formula to calculate mandatory Medicaid spending.

Landers then pointed out that the county’s 2022 tax rate is fixed (at $9.16 per $1,000, which includes the $2.90 per thousand Medicaid tax) “because you remember the rates have fallen as valuations rise”.

“I think it’s more or less just a misunderstanding of how our tax bill is (displayed). It’s purely informational only,” he said, noting that the property tax office could split the rate “into 100 different components, but that would get more complex.”

Additionally, the county does not have the authority to raise the sales tax rate, Landers said.

Ways & Means president Marianne Clattenburg put it another way, saying, “The idea (to put the Medicaid portion on the tax bill) was to show taxpayers that if we didn’t have that mandate Medicaid on the back, that’s what your taxes would be.

“If they just look at that other number ($6.25 per $1,000 of assessed value), that’s where they get their police, their EMS (emergency management services), their roads, their bridges — everything we do in the county is that other piece, and that Medicaid is a New York State mandate,” she explained.

Clattenburg acknowledged that the “misconception” has passed from one citizen to the entire Darien City Council, “who feel like we have control over that number, which we don’t.”

After several more minutes on the subject, lawmakers decided to respond to city council, starting with a letter and following Landers and Stein to a council meeting in Darien in the near future.

Lawmaker Brooks Hawley agreed with this, saying: ‘I think it would be better if it was face to face instead of sending letters back and forth. This could be misinterpreted. »

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