Under New York State law, all assets are taxable unless specifically exempted by statute. The real estate of each evaluation unit must be appraised according to the state in which it was located on the date it was taxable (March 1 in Suffolk County) at a uniform percentage of its value. This is the evaluation standard prescribed by New York State Law (PRTL, Section 305, Subdivision).Local appraisers are responsible for quoting and valuing real estate for tax purposes (and determining that real estate is tax-exempt). In Suffolk County, all evaluation is done by the city and, in some cases, by village appraisers.
These officials can be elected or appointed. The municipal appraiser and the tax receiver work closely together to prepare the real estate tax return each year. By law, the city collects all real estate taxes and distributes them among municipal funds, Suffolk County, fire districts, and several special districts. The Suffolk County Drinking Water Protection Program is allocated 25% of these taxes for the stabilization of sewer rates and the protection of taxpayers. The county legislature has jurisdiction over proposals to increase or reduce taxes, generate revenues or decrease revenues of any kind and nature for use by Suffolk County.
It also has jurisdiction over resolutions that modify Suffolk County's operating budget during a fiscal year and over resolutions that correct errors in the appraisal and tax lists. New York State County Law and County Statutes require the Suffolk County Executive to submit an annual budget to the county legislature. This budget outlines the allocations (estimated expenses) for the next year and indicates the expected sources of income. The budget director, appointed by the county executive, oversees the preparation and implementation of all county budgets. The amount of tax-exempt properties in Suffolk County is considerable and has a commensurate impact on taxes. To maintain general oversight and liaison with the Legislative Budget Review Office, Section C2-19 (C) of the Suffolk County Statutes was established.
In future columns, the League of Women Voters will look at some of the problems Suffolk County will face in the future as a result of changes in the local economy. After analyzing submissions from various departments, the County Executive's Office prepares its budget request which is sent to the County Legislature for review and analysis. All items included in the capital budget must have been included in the Capital Program, a long-term plan that establishes and estimates the costs of capital projects. The capital budget can be modified during the fiscal year through a resolution submitted by the County Executive and approved by two-thirds of the County Legislature in a roll-call vote. In 1968, an amendment to Suffolk County's statutes replaced its board of 10 municipal supervisors with elected legislators from 18 legislative districts designated in the amendment. Among its main functions is to review, modify and approve annual budgets necessary for county operations. Suffolk County residents need to understand taxation and budgeting processes to ensure their taxes are being used efficiently.
This guide provides an expert's overview of taxation and budgeting in Suffolk County, New York. It explains how assets are taxed under New York State law, who is responsible for quoting and valuing real estate for tax purposes, how taxes are collected and distributed among different funds, how budgets are prepared and approved by county officials, as well as how tax-exempt properties affect taxes.