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More NY Municipalities Opt To Override Tax Cap


With another legislative session about to get underway in New York, lawmakers may have to take another look at the tax cap: new data shows about 25 percent of local governments have indicated that they may override the property-tax cap in 2013 — up from 19 percent at the same time last year. Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Dave Lucas reports.

The cap, enacted two years ago, restricts annual hikes in the property-tax levy to 2 percent annually or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower. New York State United Teachers union was one of the first groups to oppose the tax cap when the idea was first floated.

The cap comes with what some call "an escape clause" - for example, a town board could adopt a local law giving itself authority to override the cap.

Some fact-finding by the Gannett News Service's Albany Bureau revealed that 58 per cent --- about 1575 taxing entities in New York — which includes fire districts and libraries — had filed their cap plans with the state Comptroller’s Office as of Thursday. Of those, 387 said they planned an override, because their budgets are squeezed.

Some counties, towns and villages override the cap as a precaution to ensure they are not penalized if they accidentally exceed their tax limit. NYSUT's Carl Korn says a much better solution is a "circuit breaker".

Will the 2 percent property tax cap hold? Assemblyman Jim Tedisco thinks its time for Government to take some of the financial burdens off of local municipalities.

Albany legislators will be back in the Capital January 3rd. Observers believe a tax cap discussion is inevitable. Ron Deutsch, Executive Director of New Yorkers for fiscal Fairness, agrees the Governor may need to re-assess his position on the cap.

Governor Cuomo was in Washington DC and not available for comment.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.