Budget review: Payments for Cayuga, Seneca counties to offset Cayuga Nation’s refusal to pay property taxes

By: Robert Harding

The state budget agreement announced Saturday includes aid for Cayuga and Seneca counties to offset the refusal of the Cayuga Indian Nation to pay property taxes on land owned in the two central New York counties.

The aid to localities budget bill includes $1.8 million for Seneca County and $700,000 for Cayuga County “to provide interim financial assistance to mitigate shortfalls in real property tax revenue resulting from the non-payment of real property taxes by the Cayuga Indian Nation of New York.”

State Sen. Michael Nozzolio spearheaded the effort to include funding in the budget to assist counties affected by the Cayugas’ refusal to pay property taxes. He introduced a bill in 2013 that would provide aid to Cayuga and Seneca counties. While it was approved by the Senate, the Assembly didn’t vote on the legislation.

This year, the state Senate included funding for Cayuga and Seneca counties in its one-house budget resolution. Nozzolio, R-Fayette, recently said he hoped it would be included in the final state budget.

“Each and every year, local taxpayers are forced to shoulder an unfair and increasingly costly financial burden because the Cayuga Indians refuse to pay their property taxes on land they purchased in Cayuga and Seneca counties,” Nozzolio said in a statement on March 14.

“In an effort to end this inequity and protect local taxpayers, my colleagues and I fought to include this funding in the 2014-15 New York State Senate budget resolution.”

Assemblyman Gary Finch, R-Springport, and Assemblyman Bob Oaks, R-Macedon, were also supporters of the effort to secure state assistance for Cayuga and Seneca counties.

Along with Cayuga and Seneca counties, the state will provide $700,000 in funding to Franklin County as reimbursement for the St. Regis Mohawks’ non-payment of property taxes on land owned in the county.