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Tarrytown Debates Overriding Tax Cap For 2012-13

TARRYTOWN, N.Y. – Tarrytown trustees couldn't agree during their Wednesday night work session whether they wanted to override the property tax cap law for the 2012-13 budget.

“I haven't been a proponent in the past of overriding the cap, but I'm beginning to be persuaded that you might want to do it even though you keep within the cap,” Mayor Drew Fixell said.

The discussion took place as Village Administrator Michael Blau asked trustees how early they wanted to get involved in the budget discussions and how they wanted village staff to proceed in putting together a tentative budget for the board to discuss.

The tax cap places a 2 percent limit on increases in tax levies. The village can override the law with 60 percent of the village board approving a law to do so. A public hearing on the matter would also be required.

Trustee Doug Zollo said he'd like to see Blau tell each department to cut a certain percentage of its costs when making a tentative budget. He also argued that the village should try to not override the tax cap.

“It should be the last resort,” Zollo said.

Fixell and Blau noted that many other communities had already decided to override the law while staying with the 2 percent limit because they didn't want to find that they miscalculated the capped limit.

“The problem is that you do your calculations and the comptroller, after the fact, will tell you if your calculations were right or wrong, which is bizarre in and of itself,” Blau said.

Trustee Thomas Butler questioned the tax cap law.

“How can you penalize somebody if the state is not giving you the correct guidelines?” he asked.

Village Attorney Jeffrey Shumejda said that was just the way the law worked.

Fixell said his arguments for overriding the tax cap were not so the village could levy more taxes. He also noted that the village has not had a tax levy increase in the past few years although the tax rate has gone up.

“It's not to have a bigger increase; it's to protect yourself from a miscalculation,” he said.

Blau noted that if trustees decided to override the law, they would need to do so by May 1.

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