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Sleepy Hollow Votes to Override Tax Cap

SLEEPY HOLLOW, N.Y. – Sleepy Hollow trustees have voted unanimously in favor of overriding the tax cap, because they say the state's still making up the rules.

“It seems completely irresponsible to not override the tax cap given those great unknowns,” Mayor Ken Wray said during the Tuesday meeting.

Wray and other trustees said they were in favor of overriding the tax levy limit because the state has continued to change the way the cap is calculated. For them, this means that there's a possibility that the state can somehow change the formula after the budget is approved in a way that means the village would be subject to penalties for going over the limit. Wray has argued that the state could come back several years down the road and penalize the village because of this.

The property tax cap limits the tax levy that a municipality or school can raise to around 2 percent. Municipal governments can vote to override the tax cap with the approval of 60 percent of the governing board. School districts can override the cap with 60 percent of voters approving the measure.

A proposed 2012-13 budget for the village would fall within the tax cap. The proposed $14.09 million general expenditures budget would raise the tax rate by 1.19 percent.

Approximately 42 percent of the proposed budget is delegated to employee benefits and 23 percent covers public safety, which includes the police department, fire department and safety inspections. Approximately 12 percent of the budget has been divided between recreation and the Warner Library.

Trustee Susan McFarlane sits on the committee overseeing the budget and says that although they were working to stay within the tax cap, she would be voting to override it.

“I'm willing to vote for this to protect ourselves and future boards in case of emergency or in case of the interpretation of it—which is not very clear at this point—is such that we'd be subject to some sort of unknown penalty,” McFarlane said. “It seems the prudent thing to do.”

Wray noted that many municipalities around the state were doing exactly the same thing.

In Westchester, several municipalities, including Pelham , Mamaroneck and Croton , have voted to override the tax cap. Irvington and Tarrytown are considering whether they should vote to override the law.

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