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Property owners react to 17% property tax increase

ELMIRA, N.Y. - Property owners are not happy after the city announced a 17% property tax increase last week. 

Michael Mitchell, president of Office Equipment Source, has owned business and residential properties in Elmira since 1989. 

"That's the highest increase I've ever seen in any municipality, state, or county I've ever had business in," Mitchell said. 

Mitchell says it's the customers who are going to have to pay the price. 

"As expenses go up, somebody has to pick up the tabs, it's usually the customers and tenants," Mitchell said. 

Michael Collins, City Manager, says the property tax increase is necessary because he will not make layoffs to police and fire departments. However, Mitchell and other business owners believe those jobs should be cut rather than an increased tax. 

"As the population decreases in Elmira, you have to decrease the services you give," Mitchell said. "You cannot keep growing government, and growing government." 

Some new property owners told 18 News they would have second guessed moving their businesses to Elmira if they knew about the tax increase beforehand. These owners did not want to speak on camera because they were applying for D.R.I. funding. 

Approval of the tax and budget has to go through the city council first. That is expected to happen in January. 

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