POUND RIDGE, N.Y. The Pound Ridge Town Board will hold public hearing on Thursday, Nov. 10 to consider a local law that would enable it to override the 2 percent tax cap if its determined to be necessary.
The state legislature passed the law capping property taxes at 2 percent this past summer, but that legislation contained a caveat that local municipalities could override cap if they passed a local law. Town Councilman Richard Lyman said by passing the legislation, Albany has put the onus on local governments if property taxes do go up.
The state can tell the people, we froze your taxes and now its your own local officials who are raising them, he said. Lyman said the fact that the town board is holding a public hearing on adopting a law that would allow it to supersede the 2 percent cap doesnt mean its actually planning to do it. He said it is more of a precaution and a timing issue as the town readies the new budget.
Its statutory the way the law was written, he said. There is no time between when the budget is adopted and when we can enact the local law [to override the cap]. So we have to do it now. Lyman said that adopting a local law that would override the cap is a just-in-case scenario as the town board prepares the new budget.
We need the flexibility, he said. We dont know what our revenues will be," he said. "We need the sales tax figures and the mortgage tax figures and we are guessing what our health care costs will be, and we have issues with workmens compensation costs.
The town managed to pass a balanced budget last year and recently received a glowing audit report for maintaining the towns fiscal health.
The reason we are in good shape is because we worked hard to keep our expenses at a minimum, Lyman said. But right now our expenditures for next year are unknown. Once we pass the budget, we are wedded to it. Then, if we had a problem, we would have to cut services.
Thats why, Lyman said, its important for the town to have the ability to exceed the 2 percent cap if it has to. He points out that Bedford has already passed a local law that would allow it to override the cap and he expects many towns throughout the state to do the same.
If they dont, theyre skating on thin ice, he said. Lyman said hes heard little from his constituents on the matter, either pro or con.
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