ITHACA, N.Y. – The city’s proposed 2019 budget was revealed this week and will be discussed, debated and adjusted over the coming weeks. One of the headlines of this year’s budget is the tax levy is up, but the tax rate is down. Though it sounds like good news and Mayor Svante Myrick says in the budget narrative, “Based on the projected 2019 tax rate a $220,000 city home will pay $2,552 in city tax, which equates to a $119 reduction in taxes from the 2018 taxes for the same value property” — most homeowners won’t see a $119 decrease in taxes. In fact, many people will see that much of an increase.

Myrick’s statement is accurate, but it is somewhat misleading. Here’s why.

Myrick proposed reducing the tax rate from $12.14 per $1,000 of assessed value to $11.60. If a home was assessed at the same value for 2018 and 2019, the tax bill would go down.

However, only 20 percent of Ithaca homes were assessed at the same or lower value this year compared to last, according to Jay Franklin, Tompkins County Director of Assessment.

The median assessed home value in the City of Ithaca was $210,000 for 2018. For 2019, the median is $230,000, according to Franklin.

A home valued at the median both years will see a tax bill increase of $119 under the proposed budget.

According to Franklin, one percent of Ithaca homes decreased in assessed value this year and 19 percent did not change. These 20 percent of homes will see lower property tax bills if the proposed tax rate is approved.

The 80 percent of homeowners whose property increased in value, meanwhile, may see higher bills this year. Whether their bills would increase under the proposed plan depends on how much their property’s assessed value increased.

On average, homes with higher assessments in 2019 gained about $25,000 in value, Franklin said. Here’s what an average-sized increase in value would look like at a few benchmarks:

The bottom line: the City of Ithaca’s 2019 Recommended Budget cuts the property tax rate, but rising home values would still mean higher tax bills for many Ithacans compared to last year.

For more information about the proposed 2019 budget, click here.

Devon Magliozzi

Devon Magliozzi is a reporter for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at or 607-391-0328.