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Local News

August 15, 2013

Lower state tax-levy cap concerns officials

(Continued)

In the City of Plattsburgh, councilors approved a tax-levy increase of 5.2 percent, which was the maximum allowed under the formula.

Since the cap was installed, municipal and school-district leaders have been calling for mandate relief from the state to help them deal with the budget constraints the cap puts on them.

Kasprzak said not providing it is a real problem.

“Reducing the tax cap without seriously addressing unfunded mandates for cities, towns, villages and school districts is irresponsible and unfair by Albany decision-makers,” he said.

“This will continue to adversely affect how municipalities operate, the taxes local taxpayers will pay — and ultimately the services provided to communities.”

BRACED FOR CHANGE

Clinton County Administrator Michael Zurlo, who serves as the county’s budget officer, said the lower tax-cap figure set by the state for next year will affect the budget process.

“When we calculate the cap using this growth factor, we will reduce expenses or look for additional revenue to stay within the statutory cap,” he said.

Zurlo said he will propose a budget that does not require an override, as he has the past two years since the cap was implemented.

Essex County is also bracing for the change.

Essex County Manager Daniel Palmer said his county has major revenue issues that a reduction in the tax cap is unlikely to effect.

“At this point, I am not really sure the difference between a 2 percent cap or a 1.66 percent cap is significant enough to matter in our case.”

The county has a budget funding gap of millions of dollars, he said, which could make it difficult to meet any cap.

‘EVEN TOUGHER’

Franklin County’s initial 2014 budget gap is between $4 million and $6 million before the process even begins, so a lower property-tax cap adds even more pressure to cut expenses.

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