GENESEO — At Monday’s regular board meeting for the Village of Geneseo, Trustees learned two things: Taxes are going up on residents and businesses in general; and the Town of Geneseo has cut a deal with Walmart lowering the retail giant’s taxes.
According to a letter from Town Supervisor William Wadsworth that Mayor Hatheway referred to during the Board meeting, Walmart recently initiated negotiations by asking for a 20% reduction in its assessnent. The final terms of the 5-year deal reached as a result between the Town and Walmart reduces the store’s assessment by about 10%, from its current level of $15.5 million. Though the tax deal was approved by the Town Board, the town’s Supervisor, Will Wadsworth, seems to have taken the lead role in negotiations.
Village Trustees were not happy about the reduction, and viewed the 10% hit as a serious blow, to the Geneseo Central School District in particular. While various government functions in the community will be impacted, the School District will take the biggest hit — about $21,000 in reduced funding.
A clearly annoyed Trustee, Bob Wilcox, presented with the done deal, asked the Mayor directly, “Does the School District know about this???”
In addition to the hit on the School District, other governmental agencies will absorb significant funding cuts, including a $9,000 reduction in tax revenue to the Village alone over the next 4 years. Combined with hits on the Library, the Town, Livingston County, and Volunteer Fire Department, and others, the deal will cost about $45,000.
“Save Money. Live Better.” So says the Walmart logo, and the company is legendary for its intense competition on the basis of low prices. Lately, however, hidden costs to the store’s approach have been getting attention. The company’s employees are generally minimum wage, and many struggle to survive economically. According to a piece in Slate Magazine, in Ohio for example, “Walmart actually had an average of more than 14,500 workers and family members on food stamps last year.”
The impact of a Walmart’s low wages are felt in other areas, including Medicaid and other social support programs. CNN reported on a congressional study by the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, that reveals “one Wal-Mart supercenter employing 300 workers could cost taxpayers at least $904,000 annually.”
In Geneseo, the tax levy for the Village will be going up approximately $25,000 this fiscal year. At Monday’s Board meeting, the 2014-2015 Budget for the Village includes a tax increase of nearly 2%.
Those with concerns over the Walmart tax issue can address the Town at the regularly scheduled Board meeting on Thursday April 10th at 7pm.