October 15, 2013

In My Opinion: Town may need to exceed tax cap


Making road maintenance independent of sales tax will also enable the town to build a fund balance, something that does not exist, as recommended by the Comptroller’s Office and monitored by the new fiscal-monitoring process imposed on municipalities.

The Town of Plattsburgh has been extremely successful in attracting business. One of the reasons for that is that the town has had a first-class infrastructure, in terms of roads, water and sewer facilities, planning, zoning and all the other administrative functions that are necessary to promote and sustain a growing economy that creates new jobs and builds our tax base.

The decision to raise taxes can be avoided in the short run through borrowing or letting our infrastructure deteriorate, but neither of these solutions is, in the long run, sustainable. A debt-ridden community with a crumbling infrastructure will never attract businesses that are necessary to maintain a reasonable tax base for homeowners.

I believe it is important to provide the citizens of the town with specifics, in the event the town decides to override the tax cap and increase the highway tax.

For example, based on the tentative budget that has been made public, a home with an assessed value of $100,000 would experience an increase in the highway tax of approximately $138. Again, this number is based on the tentative budget prior to budget meetings and final negotiations.

It is critical to note that the town is currently doing everything in its power to reduce expenditures, but it is equally important to share the state of the town and our efforts to remain fiscally secure and sustainable.

I have often stated that it is important to operate a town like a business, and this is what I intend to do. I firmly believe it is in the best interests of the residents of the town to be made aware of our financial challenges in a realistic and forthright way.

The tentative budget does just that, and now we will begin the process to reduce expenditures and develop the most responsible final budget possible.

Bernie Bassett is supervisor of the Town of Plattsburgh.

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