CROTON-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. – The Village of Croton's budget is not normally finalized until April, but new tax cap legislation has the Board of Trustees already discussing measures to mitigate the cap's affects, including the possibility of an override measure to exceed the 2 percent tax levy cap.
"Even the New York State Comptroller had a webinar a couple days ago, they're still trying to figure out what the legislation mean. They're trying to be as supportive as possible, but they're trying to find their way through the legislation themselves," said Village Manager Abraham Zambrano. "It's not that cut and dry," he said.
For now, the Croton Board of Trustees is planning to introduce a proposal to hold a public hearing on the tax cap override.
The legislation actually caps the tax levy increase. "Basically, a tax levy is the amount of taxes that need to be raised based on the budget appropriation minus the budget revenue," said Village Treasurer, Sandra Bullock.
For example, there would be a zero percent tax levy on the village if the estimated budget and the estimate revenue remained the same as between 2011 and 2012. A tax levy is only increased if revenue falls below estimated budget appropriations.
Generally, the levy increases if the budget has grown, or if property value assessments fall, both would increase the tax levy.
Tax cap legislation contains a provision that allows municipalities to override punitive measures for increasing the tax levy more than 2 percent. The provision allows municipalities to pass a resolution overriding the tax levy cap, but only for one fiscal year, which means each year the municipality expects to exceed the 2 percent tax levy, it must pass another resolution.
These measures in the legislation force a municipality to put any money in excess of a 2 percent tax levy increase into a reserve account, to lower the tax levy the following year. This has the net effect of keeping the tax levy at 2 percent, unless a municipality opts to pass an override resolution.
Some municipalities have preemptively passed override resolutions, such as the Town of Bedford.
"I'm sure there's some people that are going to say, 'Why are you doing this? You're not following the law.' And we are following the law. This is why the village wants to address this, to prepare itself," said Zambrano. "When budget time comes the board is going to have to make some very tough decisions, or to have the override law."
Buchanan Village Administrator, of the only other village in the Town of Cortlandt, said "I know some people are talking about passing it to be safe, but we haven't discussed it."
The Supervisor for the Town of Cortlandt, Linda Puglisi, has said "We will not be going over our allotted 2 percent tax cap monies for 2012." Puglisi added that, "Cortlandt has been the original tax cap community with an average of only .6 percent town tax increase for 20 years. Therefore, we will abide by the new state law."