The Board of Trustees voted on Dec. 20 to override the state's two percent tax cap, a law that restricts the growth in the tax levy to no more than two percent a year.
A $13.5 million tentative 2012-2013 budget reflecting a tax increase of 4.22 percent was handed out just prior to the public hearing on whether or not the board should vote itself the authority to override the .
"The cap is not really a cap as the way people think of it...because a municipality is able to exceed the cap by giving itself the power to do so," said Trustee Henry Tobin.
Tobin explained that, though the tentative budget shows a 4.22 percent increase, it is within the two percent limit after the coming year's tax rate and exclusions assigned by the state for unfunded mandates such as pension costs are factored in.
The board said they want to give themselves the authority to override the tax cap in case numbers change following public input from the Jan. 3 budget hearing.
One resident at the Dec. 20 meeting wanted to see a department by department breakdown of costs in the tentative budget. "We don't know how much it costs to have a police department, we do not know how much it costs to have a highway department - there's no way to figure that out in the budget the way it's presented," he said.
Trustee Tom Kehoe responded that the document format is specified by the state and board members volunteered to sit down with the man and go over the budget line by line, a proposal they said they would be open to at the Jan. 3 public hearing.
Mayor George Doll acknowledged that the budget document was "confusing" and explained that NYCOM (the New York Conference of Mayors) advised all villages to override the cap. "The state will come at a later date and say you misinterpreted these things. We're just safeguarding ourselves," he said.
Board members have been working intensively on the budget for the past few weeks with weekly open to the public.
"We've worked very hard with the increases we've been mandated and with increases that we feel have to take place to fulfill village obligations and services that we provide," said Tobin. "...This is a workable, though extremely tight, budget."
The hearing on the budget will take place on Jan. 3. A copy of the budget and a breakdown of the math behind the two percent tax cap are attached to this article as PDFs.