Oct 24, 2011 Jason Emerson Uncategorized
The Skaneateles Town Board will not seek to pass a local law allowing its 2012 budget to go over the recently imposed 2-percent state tax levy cap. The decision rescinds an earlier conclusion the board made at its Oct. 3 meeting.
The board’s reversal was the result of a clarified understanding of the new tax cap law, and the resultant knowledge that the town’s budget will not exceed the new limit.
“We are not anywhere near in jeopardy of exceeding the levy limit,” Skaneateles Town Supervisor Terri Roney told the board at its Oct. 20 meeting.
Roney said the proposed town budget has a tax levy increase of approximately 1 percent.
The tax cap was signed into New York state law on June 30. Under the law, property tax increases are capped at 2 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is less. Local communities and local voters can override the cap with a 60-percent vote on the budget.
At the Oct. 3 board meeting, Roney and Town Budget Officer Bridget Winkelman said the law not only limits municipalities from increasing their total budgets more than 2 percent, but also more than 2 percent on individual program or department funding within the overall budget. This caused the board to fear that the highway department budget, specifically, may be “penalized” by the cap.
The board decided at that meeting to hold a public hearing on Nov. 3 on a law to allow the budget to exceed the cap after Winkleman explained that there is no penalty for passing a local law and then not exceeding the cap. But not passing the waiver and going over the cap is penalized.
At the recent Oct. 20 board meeting, Roney told the board that she and Winkleman had attended a webinar on the tax levy cap, which “clarified” certain aspects of the new law. Specifically, individual program or department funding within a municipality’s budget can exceed the 2-percent limit; it is only the overall budget that cannot exceed the cap.
With that understanding, Roney told the board that the town’s 2012 budget, as currently proposed, will not go above 2 percent, and so passing a local law on the issue is no longer necessary.
The board then unanimously agreed to withdraw the public hearing on the proposed law, previously scheduled for Nov. 3.
—The board announced that the town’s proposed 2012 budget is completed and a public hearing on the budget was scheduled for 7:15 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 3.
—The board is preparing a letter to send to the state Department of Transportation to ask for state speed limit reductions on Stump, Foster and Hoyt Roads in Shepard Settlement. All three roads have no clearly posted speed limits. Residents, during an Oct. 12 hamlet meeting, requested the board to seek a reduction to 45 m.p.h. on all three roads.
—The board unanimously agreed to sign a snow plow contract with Onondaga County for the coming winter season, in which the county would reimburse the town $6,335 per mile of the 15.5 miles of county roads plowed by the town highway department. This rate is a 7.2 percent increase over last year’s reimbursement rate, Roney said. “This certainly serves a revenue stream for us,” Roney told the board.
—The board unanimously agreed to purchase a new Bobcat “skid steer loader” for the transfer station at a state bid cost of $22,687. The town buys a new Bobcat every year, but this year the way in which the old Bobcat will be disposed of will be different. Rather than trade-in the old machine to the dealer and then pay the cost difference for the new one, as is usually done, the town board agreed to put the used Bobcat up for auction. The auctioneer has guaranteed a minimum return of $17,800, and the board hopes the machine will actually sell for more, which would bring in an overall higher dollar value to the town than received through a trade-in. The money realized from the auction will be put back into transfer station equipment reserve fund.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Skaneateles Press. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.