Scotia moves on tax cap override

Board sets public hearing on proposal, looks at restructuring fees

— Staying within the state’s two percent property tax cap isn’t getting any easier, according to Scotia Mayor Kris Kastberg, and the village wants to keep all its budgeting options open by setting the stage to exceed it.

The Village Board of Trustees at its most recent meeting approved advancing a local law to exceed the tax levy threshold, which has not yet been calculated. The required public hearing on the proposition will be held on Wednesday, Feb. 13, at 7 p.m. at Village Hall. The local law requires approval from 60 percent of the board, which is the normal 3-2 ratio to adopt resolutions.

Kastberg said approving the override would allow the board to keep options open as the budget process begins.

“It is wise management to pass the local law to allow you to exceed it every year,” Kastberg said. “I don’t want people thinking we are going to just start into it right away and exceed it.”

The village must adopt a budget by May 1 for its fiscal year starting June 1.

Kastberg said he would vote every year to exceed the cap because he doesn’t believe state lawmakers should control local governments. If voters didn’t approve how a municipality was managed, he argued residents can vote local lawmakers out of office.

Last year, Scotia voted to override the tax cap, but its adopted $8.4 million 2012-13 budget remained within the allowable limit. Every 1 percent increase in Scotia’s property tax levy raises an addition $35,000 in taxes.

“For the village to continue providing its services year after year takes about a 3 percent tax increase each year,” Kastberg said.

Taxpayers have seen the 2 percent property tax cap isn’t as simple as the name implies because municipalities and school districts exceed a 2 percent tax levy increase while remaining within the cap. There are several exemptions applied before the actual limit is calculated, but Kastberg said some exemptions were reduced this year relating to pension costs. Cuts to services are increasingly a possibility for the 2013-14 budget.

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