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August 15, 2013

Lower state tax-levy cap concerns officials

(Continued)

“It’s going to be a tough budget to get to 2 percent and even tougher to get to 1.66,” said Legislature Chairman Billy Jones (D-Chateaugay).

“We’re going to get the budget down like we always do, no matter what magical number is out there, 2 percent or 1.66 percent.”

Layoffs, employee buyouts and leaving vacant jobs open have worked in the past, “but remember, the more you cut, the less you have to cut,” he said.

“We’ve cut the fat the last two years, and now we’re cutting into the bone. Nobody wants to pay more taxes, and we’re going to cut as much as possible,” Jones said. “This is difficult on the department heads, and it’s difficult on us.”

‘TAXPAYERS STRUGGLE’

Most municipalities are just beginning their budget process for 2014. School districts will start their budget process in early 2014 for the 2014-15 school year.

Assemblywoman Janet Duprey (R-Peru), who voted for the tax cap two years ago, said meeting the 1.66 percent tax cap will be difficult for many municipalities and school districts without mandate relief.

“Taxpayers continue to struggle with increases in taxes and for the most part support the tax cap,” she said.

“However, taxpayers also want to have the same services they’ve come to expect from local government. I believe we are at or near the point where services will be reduced or more municipalities will need to override the 1.66 percent tax cap.”

‘OFFENSIVE’

Towns and villages will also be under the same pressure.

In the Town of Jay in Essex County, Supervisor Randy Douglas said the average tax-levy increase over the past nine years in their budget has been 1.75 percent, before and after the 2 percent limit was set two years ago.

It will prove challenging to drop that to 1.66 percent, he said.

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