capguidelines.pdf
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Today's Poughkeepsie Journal ran a story regarding the concerns that Dutchess County Legislators has with the tax cap signed into law this past June. The article is as follows:

Dutchess County began the year with adequate budget reserves, and sales tax revenues are running slightly ahead of original estimates. But rising energy, pension and jail costs and a continuing drop in property values will present serious challenges to county officials as they develop the 2012 budget.

Those were some of the observations contained in a memo to the county Legislature from county Budget Director Valerie Sommerville and Finance Commissioner Pamela Barrack as preparation of next year's budget begins.

Sommerville and Barrack sent the memo to county legislators, department heads, municipal leaders and school superintendents.

They said the task of crafting a budget will be "compounded greatly" this year because the state Legislature adopted a law setting a cap of 2 percent on the rise in property tax levies "with no mandate relief from Albany. This will require difficult 2012 budget decisions unparalleled to anything we have seen before."

Sommerville and Barrack said an independent audit indicated the county had about $30.9 million unappropriated funds at the end of last year when the county Legislature adopted a $404-million budget. That's slightly above the recommended minimum of 5 percent, they said. But they warned the reserve funds should "not be viewed as cash.

"Appropriating fund balance must be done carefully to avoid putting county government in the position of having to borrow to pay for ongoing operating costs," Somerville and Barrack said.

And while some revenues are up this year — sales taxes receipts are about 3.4 percent higher than anticipated — some county expenses are higher. Pension and gasoline costs are up significantly, and the Legislature has already dipped into reserves to pay for the housing out of inmates from the county jail, they said.

Sommerville and Barrack said the county's property tax base had dropped by about $1 billion this year, meaning tax rates would rise slightly next year even if the tax levy remains constant.

Legislature Chairman Robert Rolison, R-City of Poughkeepsie, said the memo contained few surprises. Rolison said he and other legislators were prepared to make some "hard choices" as they weigh the burden on taxpayers against the need to provide county services.

"When you look at our increased costs and our declining revenues and then put the 2-percent tax cap on top of that without significant mandate relief, you're looking at a real challenge," he said.

"Last year's budget process was difficult. This year is going to be even more difficult," Rolison said.

Minority Leader Sandra Goldberg, D-Wappinger, county Comptroller James Coughlan and Legislator Dale Borchert, R-LaGrange, who leads the Budget, Finance and Personnel Committee, were not available for comment Thursday
.

http://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/article/20110930/NEWS01/109300339/In-Dutchess-County-rising-costs-tax-cap-property-values-complicate-budget-process?odyssey=mod|mostview


However during the interview with the Poughkeepsie Journal this past Monday, both candidates were 'for it' and commented on their support for a law that they appeared to know nothing about. Let's roll to the tape at marker 4:40:

Aileen is supportive of the tax cap because as a property owner she is familiar with rising costs and stagnating income. How she plans on making a budget that follows the parameters of the law is with a sharp pencil and maximizing the tax base.  She also brings up the Hyatt Hotel project which later on in the interview incorrectly stated it was a PILOT program rather than the correct 485-B Exemption.

Joe is in favor because he has empathy for the taxpayers and business owners and hopes that he/they 'are able to keep it in place once I am in, the, as supervisor.'

A few points: 
1) Did they even read the law? As one that graduated from law school and recently took the bar exam, Mr. Kakish did not do a very good job explaining the law in laypersons terms. Of all the candidates, you would think a law school graduate and hopeful attorney would have an understanding of the law and be able to explain it intelligently. Aileen plans to tackle it with a 'sharp pencil,' but how is she going to make that pencil work its magic when there are bonds and loans that have to be repaid. The Police Station Project was possible due to a multi-million dollar loan. When the town has to pay back the money, how is she going to create a budget that is below its expenditures (just like she referenced how she does with her household budget). Let's not forget the recent damage done during the hurricanes. While FEMA will reimbursing the town apporoximately 87% of the costs to repair the roads (and FEMA is in the red as it is) the town still has to pay for the balance. What happens if more homes in Hyde Park are foreclosed on and the rest of the tax bill is on the burden of the rest of the taxpayers. A 2% tax cap spells trouble in cases like these because unless 60% of the voter override the law, that means services and jobs in town will be cut.

2) Joe Kakish's comment 'are able to keep it in place once I am in, the as supervisor' is quite humorous. It's a law Joe. How are you not going to keep it in place. If he read the law, he would have somewhat been able to explain how the tax levy can be overridden. Sorry Joe, but the decision not to keep it in place it not up to you per the following: 

Is there an override mechanism to the tax cap?
The tax levy cannot exceed the cap unless 60 percent of voters (for school districts) or 60 percent of the total voting power of the governing body (for local governments) approve such increase.

Perhaps if he read the law, he would know this. Not very good lawyering skills there, huh Joe. Seriously, how much money did he spend to go to law school? If I were him I'd ask for my money back.  For his future reference, a 'cheat sheet' can be found at the following site: http://www.tax.ny.gov/research/property/capguidelines.pdf

And the Poughkeepsie Journal article just isn't isolated to the Hudson Valley. All over the state other municipalities are concerned.
The following is a well-written article providing information about the law that is affecting the town of Lewiston, NY, located in Niagara County:
http://niagara-gazette.com/local/x1126804685/Lewiston-calls-public-hearing-to-discuss-states-2-percent-tax-cap

So while Joe and Aileen are embracing the 2% tax cap, I'll be busy looking for property outside the town of Hyde Park (and NYS for that matter).