Press-Republican

In My Opinion

October 15, 2013

In My Opinion: Town may need to exceed tax cap

In an effort to control rising property taxes, Gov. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature placed a cap on expenditures that municipalities can make in a given year.

Under the current formula, it will be necessary to pass a local law if a municipality intends to increase property taxes for the year 2014 beyond 1.66 percent.

Most residents agree that it is critically important to control municipal expenditures and that this cap is a step in the right direction to achieving that objective.

The Plattsburgh Town Council is considering passing a local law to override the cap for the budget year 2014. I feel it is important that I share with property owners in the Town of Plattsburgh some of the reasons why, this year, as others have had to do, it is necessary for us to override the cap and the impact on property taxes that will create.

The Town of Plattsburgh has been fortunate over the years to receive measurable sales-tax revenues and, as a result, the Town of Plattsburgh, unlike most towns, does not have a town tax and only very recently imposed an extremely modest highway tax.

To give some relevant examples, this year the highway tax in three neighboring towns are $2.37 per $1,000 of assessed value, $4.49 per thousand and $1.48 per thousand. The highway tax in the Town of Plattsburgh is 72 cents per thousand, much lower than most towns in the county.

What has happened in the past is that the cost associated with maintaining the system of roads within the town has been funded by sales-tax revenue. Unfortunately, sales-tax revenue is not always predictable and, as a result, I feel it is important for the costs associated with maintaining our highway system to be funded entirely through a highway tax.

I would add that it is very tempting for elected officials to kick the can down the road, which, in essence, places the burden of dealing with fiscal problems on future Town Councils, but, in my judgment, that is neither responsible nor ethical.

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In My Opinion