Updated 10/02/2012 12:58 PM
Schenectady County overrides tax cap for 2013 budget
It's budget season, and municipalities are getting their first look at their financial plans for 2013. For some, the outlook is not so bright. Innae Park reports from a county that is being forced to override the state's tax cap in order to stay afloat.
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SCHENECTADY, N.Y. – “Unfortunately we have just not seen that mandate relief,” said Schenectady County Manager Kathleen Rooney.
As a result, Schenectady County could see a 7.49 percent increase in their property taxes in 2013, a hike they haven't seen in years.
County Legislature Majority Leader Gary Hughes said, “Schenectady County has not increased property taxes in the last three years. We've pretty much been under our own self-imposed property tax cap!”
This year the state-imposed tax cap is being enforced. At a special meeting Monday night, the legislature voted 11 to four to override their limit of 2.95 percent. Among the opponents: sole Republican legislator Jim Buhrmaster.
“We've got a tax cap out there put on by our Democratic governor,” said Buhrmaster. “It's people adhering to it, it's school boards, towns and villages, cities, and we've got to do the same thing in the county.”
The recent low rates have come at a price. The recession and a desire to keep taxes low forced the county to dip into their reserves.
Even with the higher rates, spending in 2013 would only increase by a quarter of a percent. Rooney blames that on state mandates.
While the hikes are a burden for property owners, other areas would be saved.
“We’d be talking about meals for seniors. We'd be talking about places for the homeless to stay,” said Hughes. “We're talking about a lot of services to the people on the fringes of our society.”
But Buhrmaster believes more cuts can and need to be made. “We have in our county budget support for not-for-profits. That's going to have to be examined and taken a look at also. They will probably have to stand on their own.”
The legislature's review of the budget begins Tuesday at 6 p.m. A public hearing is scheduled for October 15th, and the legislature will vote on the budget on the 17th.