Heaviest taxes shouldered by Adirondackers, study reveals

WARRENSBURG - Despite living in some of New York's poorest municipalities, many Adirondack residents are subject to some of the highest tax rates per capita in the state.

According to data compiled by the state Comptroller and analyzed by the government watchdog group the Empire Center for New York State Policy, towns and counties in the Park top the tax burden list, while offering some of the fewest social services.

In 2007, the Hamilton County tax burden was $1,606 per resident - the most expensive in the state.

Warren County ranked third statewide at $1,255 per resident and Essex County ranks ninth at $1,065.

The out-of-park counties of Saratoga, Wyoming and Orleans have the smallest tax burdens per resident.

At the town level, the Essex County community of Newcomb has the largest tax burden statewide at $6,293 per resident.

Hamilton County is well represented in the top 10 most burdensome places with Arietta ranking second, Inlet third, Long Lake fifth, Lake Pleasant 10th and Indian Lake 11th. A total of 908 towns are represented in the study.

In contrast, Hamilton County ranked 53rd in per capita spending for social services, while Essex ranks 47th.

Essex County also ranks seventh in per capita spending on employee benefits at $349. Hamilton is number three and Lewis County tops the list at $808 per resident.

According to LA Group Planner Jim Martin, who has for years scrutinized statistics on the Adirondacks, most non-park municipalities are comprised of roughly 30 percent industrial or commercial property. But in the Adirondack Park, the total amount of commercial or industrial property drops to a paltry 0.3 percent.

And this is at the core of the cash shortage to shoulder taxes in municipalities inside the park borders.

"The regular taxpayer puts in $1 and takes out $1.30 in services," Martin said. "A company puts in $1 and takes out .35 cents."

New York regularly tops the list of most highly taxed states, making Adirondack residents some of the most taxed in the nation.

Meanwhile, the average Adirondack household brings in a median income of roughly $43,000 annually, $8,000 below the statewide average.

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