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Manlius votes to override tax cap

— The Manlius town board voted Tuesday night to override Gov. Andrew Cuomo's 2 percent tax cap, citing additional debt service expenses related to the construction of the Fayetteville fire station.

The board unanimously adopted the 2012 budget, which holds a 1.85 percent tax levy for the town. The overall town property tax levy will remain below 2 percent, as the law requires, for two of three fire protection districts, board member Nick Marzola explained at a regular meeting Nov. 16.

Residents in the Fayetteville fire protection district will see a tax increase of 4.53 percent due to the capital improvement plan for the Fayetteville Fire Department.

Originally, the town was under the impression that capital improvements, such as the fire department expansion, would be an exclusion under Cuomo’s tax cap. That understanding is the reason for the delay, supervisor Ed Theobald said.

"It has been a lesson to all of us so far, as what we have always thought was a relatively solid process," Theobald said.

The fire department is not to be blamed, however, said Fayetteville Mayor Mark Olson.

"The town residents need to realize what a burden the new facilities and developments have put on the Fayetteville Fire Department," he said. "It's either provide the service or not provide, and we chose to provide the services."

The Northeast Medical Center and other facilities and developments within the Fayetteville fire district put "undue burden" on the fire department, prompting their request for the new facility. That was passed by village-wide referendum, and construction wrapped up earlier this year.

"I don't think people understand what your closest fire department does," Olson said.

Traditionally, town budgets are to be reported to the county by Nov. 20. Theobald said the town was able to find a ruling by the comptroller that would allow the town to hold the public hearing, and adopt the final budget for 2012, after the Nov. 20 deadline. The ruling states the adoption can occur as long as the levy does not disrupt the operation of the town or the county. The two-day delay, Theobald said, would not be a disruption.

"I'm confident that even though we are two days late, we can defend that by saying it's not going to cause anyone any prejudice in the end," town attorney Timothy Frateschi said.

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