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Conservative town budget outlook on real estate activity

HARLEM VALLEY — At the end of last year, when area town boards did their budgets for 2010, they were not optimistic about the prospects for the real estate market in 2010. Towns rely on the mortgage tax receipts refunded by the county to help them balance budgets and to hold down property taxes. Looking at a sample comparison of 2009 and 2010 mortgage revenue projections (see chart), it is clear that town boards are not comfortable forecasting a turn around in the market for 2010.

Amenia is anticipating a decrease of almost 38 percent in 2010 compared to last year’s budget.

“We didn’t get close to the budgeted $160,000 in revenues last year,” town Supervisor Wayne Euvrard said. “We were closer to $80,000.”

North East is forecasting $62,000 in mortgage tax receipts, which is less than 38 percent of last year’s budget and close to the $63,000 actually generated in 2009. Pine Plains is holding level at $48,500. Gregg Pulver,  the Pine Plains town supervisor, indicated that 2009 receipts were slightly above the budgeted level, but said his board is also prudent about predicting better conditions.

Town predictions for a slow real estate market are further evidenced by a forecasted decline in building permits activity.  For example,  Amenia is forecasting a decline of 42.9 percent compared to 2009 levels.

The fall in mortgage tax receipts has impacted all town budgets since 2007. The town of Washington’s revenue from the mortgage tax is predicted to be only 30 percent of what it collected in 2007, and 2010 budgeted mortgage tax revenues represent a decrease of 24 percent compared to the 2009 budget.  Despite the forecast made last fall, Laura Hurley, bookkeeper to the town supervisor, is cautiously optimistic that the town of Washington mortgage tax 2010 receipts may come in better than budgeted.  

“By the end of the year, we received more mortgage tax revenues in 2009 than we had anticipated, and the first receipts for 2010 are favorable,” Hurley said.

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