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Yorktown Board Worries About Tax Cap

YORKTOWN, N.Y. -- Local officials say they are in need of more details from the New York State Legislature in order for them to fully prepare for the impending tax cap that the state lawmakers adopted last month. Members of the Town Board say they're worried because certain services and positions may need to be cut in the next budget since the tax cap mandates that no tax levy may exceed an increase of more than 2 percent.

Lawmakers claim that with the increases that they say need to be added to the general highway and library budgets, the town will already be exceeding the 2 percent cap. The new law sets the increase on the maximum amount the town can raise the tax levy to 2 percent, or the rate of inflation, whichever ends up being lower. Last year, Yorktown's rate of inflation was 1.6 percent.

“Just by paying the mandated, contractual step increases and the 13 percent health benefits, not doing anything else, everything else stays the same, we’ve already exceeded the cap,” Supervisor Susan Siegel said.

The issues rose as both the police department and highway superintendent are in the process of filling vacancies for positions in their departments—and the board decided last Tuesday to stall the process until they know more about the tax cap. The fear, they explained, in hiring someone now is the possibility that the position may have to be eliminated when budget is planned in a few months.

Highway Superintendant Eric DiBartolo asked the board to allow him to hire individuals, with notice that he or she could lose his job in the coming months. DiBartolo added that he has always balanced the budget that the board has given him, and will continue to do so even with the lowered budget expected under the cap. Without allowing him to hire a new person to fill the vacancy, he said the town was crippling their infrastructure.

“The infrastructure of this town, you are not fulfilling, you’re more concerned with tennis courts, you’re more concerned with Legacy Ball Fields … you are crippling completely the operation, you are doing nothing to help your infrastructure,” DiBartolo said. "But you have to start getting creative, town board, because you’re looking at a 2 percent tax cap and there’s only so many times I can go back to the guys at the highway department and tell them ‘listen this is what we got.’”

The town is expecting to receive more information from the state in August in regard to what may be excluded from the cap.

“We have too many unknowns, we don’t know which fund is going to be separate,” Siegel said. “We’ve already cut in the highway budget for the past several years, paving has been cut. We basically only use what we get from the state, we have cut drainage basically to nothing, we have cut the highway department. We even cut the snow budget so we kept the tax rate low, knowing that whenever it snows we just find the money in fund balance—so where else can you cut?”

How do you think Yorktown should cut spending to meet the requirements of the tax cap?

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