By Rick Miller

Town of Great Valley officials reached out late last week to the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance looking for possible solutions to the sales tax error that has resulted in sharply higher county taxes for town taxpayers.

Following the recommendation of its accountant, Berry & Berry CPA, the town board decided last year to apply 2018 sales taxes to reduce its town taxes instead of county taxes as had been the case. Great Valley was the last of four towns that still applied its sales taxes toward county taxes.

Instead of using an estimate county officials were developing for the county budget, about $490,000, Supervisor Daniel Brown said the town “woefully” underestimated the amount of local sales tax that would be available, using about $75,000 to reduce the town tax levy.

Meanwhile, the money was not available to reduce county taxes as had been done in the past — nor was most of it used to reduce the town taxes as had been anticipated.

The result was an approximate $300 town and county tax increase on a property valued at $100,000. Some tax bills were $500 higher or more.

On the advice of Town Attorney Peter Sorgi, the town board also agreed to seek special state legislation to allow the town to give rebates for the 2018 taxes.

Brown said he left a message for a representative of state Sen. Catharine Young, R-Olean, and plans to reach out to Assemblyman Joseph GIglio, R-Gowanda, to explain the situation.

Brown said Jan. 11 he and Sorgi spoke with a representative of the state Department of Taxation and Finance that morning. That person was going to alert officials higher in the department to look into the town’s options.

Brown told the Olean Times Herald on Jan. 11 that it is unlikely anything can be resolved prior to the Jan. 31, deadline to pay town and county taxes at local tax collectors.

He apologized to taxpayers for the error at the town’s meeting on Jan. 8. On Jan. 11, he reported, “In two days, we haven’t gotten very far, but we’re still working on it.”

The Great Valley Town Board has scheduled a special meeting Jan. 22 at 7 p.m. at the Town Hall to update residents on the tax issue.

What may happen next year at budget time, is that the Great Valley Town Board could apply the property tax toward the town and county tax rate.