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Company Makes Mistake On Roscoe CS' Tax Bills

By Dan Hust
ROSCOE — June 30, 2000 -- Back in March, Roscoe Central School Superintendent George Will and his staff were looking over figures regarding fund balance projections for a building project at the school.
But the numbers didn’t add up correctly. There seemed to be some sort of problem with the 1999-2000 tax levy calculations, and a thorough look at the figures revealed a startling fact.
The calculations were wrong.
Upon advice from the school’s legal counsel, Roscoe officials called up the county attorney’s office, State Senator John Bonacic’s law team, and the county’s Office of Real Property Tax Services and explained that they were dealing with a $74,811.26 tax levy shortfall, thanks to a mathematical error on the part of ETC Data Services of Newburgh, a company which does such tax calculations for every school district and several townships in Sullivan County.
Further research revealed that the Delaware County taxpayers of the Roscoe Central School District had been appropriately levied. It was only the Sullivan County towns of Rockland, Fremont and Callicoon that were short.
“It’s a strange situation,” said Will yesterday. “It’s a partial district problem. It took our legal advisors . . . quite a while to figure out how to correct a partial district tax levy mistake.”
Until those advisors were sure of how to deal with the situation, Will said the matter was not publicized. Now that a correction must be made, per instructions from the school board on Tuesday, he is sending out information sheets today to every affected taxpayer in the district.
In the end, Will explained, taxpayers in Sullivan County will see an average $67 increase per $100,000 of assessed valuation in this September’s tax bills, a year after the original mistake was made.
Several things are clear, said Will: the error was not the district’s fault, the money to be raised is what should have been included in the original tax bills, and the four percent tax decrease from the 1998-1999 tax levy remains in effect (it was a seven percent decrease with the error).
He added that safeguards are being put in place to ensure that such mistakes are quickly caught in the future, but an attempt to change from ETC to another company is not currently in the works, as Will said such a process is “cumbersome.”
Since the sheets have not yet arrived in most taxpayers’ mailboxes, Will remarked that it was too early to gauge residents’ reactions but explained that those present at Tuesday’s board meeting – where the matter was revealed in public – seemed to understand what had happened.
For more information, call the school at 607-498-4126.

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