President: Catrina VanAtta
President-Elect: Mary Kane
Vice President: "Six Pack"
Treasurer: Kati Flynn
Secretary: Joanne Lamoureux 

News 2022-06-15
June 15, 2022
Reporter:  Loralyn Light

Wednesday’s meeting:
Bob Riter
Cornell Community Cancer Partnership
Meeting on Zoom only

The Four-Way Test was recited in unison by all members attending.
There were no guests or visiting Rotarians.

  • Catrina VanAtta; photo Mike BrownPresident Catrina reminded everyone that our Pass the Gavel event will take place July 6th at 12:15 PM at Coltivare in person and on Zoom.  Jean McPheeters has sent out invitations to the event, so please respond as soon as possible in order to get an accurate count (we’ve guaranteed 60 at this point); cost is $17.
  • Geoff Dunn reminded all that the 9th Annual Road Rally will take place on Sunday, July 24th.  Unity House is donating the bags, but we’re still looking for items for the bags (need 30 of each item).  Note that the starting place has been determined:  the Varna Community Center.
  • After a two-year hiatus, he Auburn Rotary Club is having its largest fundraiser of the year, Party in the Park, on the weekend of July 23rd.  The club still needs volunteers for the event on Saturday and Sunday at Emerson Park, 6877 E. Lake Rd. in Auburn.  Sign up through the Volunteer Schedule.
  • District 7170’s Pass the Gavel will take place Tuesday, June 21st from 5 to 9 PM at Traditions at the Glen in Johnson City; cost is $40 per person.  To register, go to our district’s home page:  If anyone interested in car-pooling to this event, contact Heidi Goldstein at
  • On June 13th, Rotarian James Brown accepted his Tompkins County Distinguished Citizen Award (2022) at a reception and dinner at the Emerson Suites at Ithaca College.  Congratulations to James!  Brett Bossard was master of ceremonies.
  • Geoff Dunn announced that as part of the celebration this weekend, the Juneteenth Community Health Fair will be held at the Bernie Milton Pavilion on The Commons; the Health Department will offer Moderna boosters.
  • Dale Flinn reminded everyone of the Donor Challenge:  an anonymous Rotarian will match any gift up to $500 to the Rotary Foundation with points, if you donate to the Annual Fund or the Polio Fund in the month of June.  Note that all information is confidential, except for Dale!  If you donate on line, please let him know.
  • Heidi Goldstein still needs help at our Rotary Rotary!  If you can help water these gardens on Thursdays, please contact Heidi at

Kellyann O'Mara; photo Mike BrownKellyann O’Mara read a while ago that had Dr. Seuss distilled his thoughts about the importance of reading to children’s learning, he might have said something like, “You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild to pick up a book and read to a child.”  Although penned by someone else for a national reading campaign celebrated each year on Dr. Seuss’s birthday, the quote does have that “Dr Seuss” ring to it.
It is safe to assume, that all of us are familiar with The Cat in the Hat, Horton Hears a Who!, One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, and the list goes on.  These whimsical stories filled with made-up words and repetitive sounds are favorites with children and adults the world over—well, that is until you are asked to read the same book over and over, like I do with my grandchildren, day after day… until suddenly, there is a new BBF (best book forever) to read or add to the list of favorites!
Reading is a great habit to form at any age.  In fact, evidence from a study at Yale University (yes, Yale!) found that people who read live, on average, 23 months longer than those who do not.  Specifically, reading books, as opposed to magazines and newspapers, is what appears to add that longevity.  Some of the life-extending benefits are attributed to new knowledge and wisdom, as well as increased understanding and empathy for individuals who often have little in common with the reader.  Reading immerses us in someone else’s story… whether fact or fiction.  It invites us to walk a mile in their shoes.

“Increasing Assessments and Their Impact on the Property Taxes”
Brian Wilbur introduced speaker Jay Franklin, Director of the Tompkins County Assessment Department.
Jay said that the TC Assessment Department is the only true county assessor’s office in the state, as most other assessors are elected or appointed by towns.  Jay’s father Don worked in the same office from 1970 (its inception) to 1996, including 12 years as director.  Jay started his career there a year later in 1997, becoming director in 2011.
Jay first offered some definitions:
  • Tax Base:  the total assessed value of real property minus any applicable real property tax exemptions.
  • Budget:  the overall revenue and expenses for a taxing jurisdiction.  This is either voted on by the governing board or by a vote of the residents of that school district.
  • Tax Levy:  the amount of money needed to be raised by a taxing jurisdiction after all other sources of revenue have been applied.
  • Tax Rate:  the Tax Levy divided by the Tax Base, multiplied by 1,000.
Every year the Tompkins County Assessment Department reviews several thousand of Tompkins County’s 35,000 properties rotating through different property types and locations in an effort to keep everything up-to-date.
In the 1990s, the City of Ithaca’s total tax value decreased from just under $900 million down to $816 million—but since then the total tax value has been increasing steadily to its value in 2021: $2,240,147,928.
“Personally, I’d like to see property values continue to increase.  That means we live in a desirable community.  As a civil servant with 12-year-old triplets, my biggest investment will be my house.  I like to know I made a wise investment by seeing it increase in value.”
Jay sought to assuage some of the worries over rising assessments; he described it as not necessarily a bad or scary thing, and that it depends on external actions beyond the tax assessment.  He then showed a few examples using the Lansing Central School District’s 2021-22 numbers (tax base=$1,012,383,172; tax levy=$21,323,524; tax rate=$21.062701).  Based on those values, a house assessment of $200K would yield a tax bill of $4,213.  Now if the Tax Base DOUBLED, the tax bill would remain the same; and if the Tax Base was HALVED, the tax bill would still remain the same!  However, if the Tax Levy was doubled, the tax bill would also double to $8,425.
People correlate increased values with increased taxes, which is simply not the case.  If the values doubled, the tax rate would be cut in half and everyone’s taxes will remain the same.  If values increase, the tax rate can decrease.  But unfortunately, sometimes the taxing jurisdictions will say that they kept taxes flat as they didn’t increase the tax rate—but the value of their property went up 9.14% so they now have 9.14% more of a tax levy.  The tax rate is simply a function of the tax levy; that is, how much a taxing jurisdiction needs to do their business and the tax base.
How to reduce your taxes, according to Jay:
  • Ensure that you are assessed correctly; feel free to contact their office about your assessment (607-274-5517;
  • Are you signed up for all of the exemptions for which you are eligible?  There are over 200!
  • Go to local municipal budget meetings!
  • Do your own research!
  • Focus on the tax levy; how much are they spending?
  • And VOTE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
We all had a chance to talk in small groups for about ten minutes before President Catrina ended the meeting.

Newsletter Reporter:  Loralyn Light
Photographer:  Mike Brown
Newsletter Editor:  Loralyn Light
Set-up Zoom:  Brett Bossard
Recording Archive:  Paul Martin; click here
Club Service Facilitator:  June Losurdo