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February 16, 2012

Our Opinion: Override helps keep options open

The village board of trustees will hold a public hearing later this month on a local law that would allow the village to exceed the 2 percent property tax cap approved by Governor Andrew Cuomo and the legislature.

On the surface, it sounds like the trustees are anticipating an increase in the tax levy in excess of the 2 percent cap, and the board was worried that was exactly how it would look.

“I don’t want it perceived as a strategy to exceed the limit,” said Trustee Dr. Walter Franck during the board’s last meeting.

But the real concern on the part of the trustees is the fact they don’t have much input on the budget until it is presented to them by the mayor at the end of March. Shortly after presenting the tentative budget, Mayor Joe Booan’s term will end and it will fall to the new mayor and board to put the finishing touches on the budget and get it adopted by May 1.

Trustee Lynne Mebust explained that when she offered a motion calling for the village to adopt the local law that is required to exceed the cap.

We can understand why the board would want the override in place.

Figuring out the tax cap is not as simple as adding 2 percent to last year’s tax levy to arrive at the maximum for the new tax levy. Nothing from Albany is ever that simple. There are things like the “allowable levy growth factor” and “tax base growth factor” that must be accounted for. Re-levied taxes, payments in lieu of taxes, charge backs and more go into the calculations.

It is also possible that the board will have a legitimate need to exceed the 2 percent tax cap to pay for all that must be accomplished in the coming year.

We believe the village board is making the right decision to keep its options open by putting an override of the tax cap in place in the event it is necessary.

Residents will have an opportunity to express concerns about overriding the tax cap during the public hearing set for 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 27.

There will be another opportunity for public comment during the public hearing on the budget itself. If the village’s proposed budget calls for more spending than residents think appropriate, there is an opportunity to voice opposition.

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