Fulton County board votes to dodge tax cap

The Fulton County Board of Supervisors on Wednesday voted to override the state-mandated tax cap and

The Fulton County Board of Supervisors on Wednesday voted to override the state-mandated tax cap and then to adopt a $93.2 million budget for 2012 that carries a 6.37 percent increase in the property tax levy.

Tax rates

Here are the 2012 county property tax rates per $1,000 assessed value and the change from 2011, as calculated by Fulton County Budget Director Alice Kuntzsch:

• Bleecker: $8.87, +7.38%

• Broadalbin: $10.01, +7.06%

• Caroga: $19.82, +9.50%

• Ephratah: $10.79, +7.36%

• Gloversville: $9.07, +6.96%

• Johnstown (city): $12.68, +6.91%

• Johnstown (town): $11.33, -1.13%

• Mayfield: $12.53, +5.65%

• Northampton: $13.30, +5.39%

• Oppenheim: $16.64, +5.18%

• Perth: $15.55, +3.12%

• Stratford: $14.57, +7.21%

Supervisors chose not to use any more of the county’s reserve funds or make additional reductions in appropriations to lower the tax levy to the county’s tax cap of 3.76 percent. To reach the cap, the board would have had to trim approximately $700,000 from the tax levy.

They did make one minor change to the 2012 budget prior to the adoption vote: eliminating a typist position in the Real Property Tax Services Agency. It is the only layoff in a budget that could have contained many more.

Under the new budget, which takes effect Jan. 1, county taxes will increase by 3.12 percent to 9.50 percent in 11 of 12 municipalities. Only the town of Johnstown will see a tax decrease in 2012, totaling 1.13 percent. Tax bills will go out in mid-December.

To reach the adopted levy of $27.7 million, the board on Monday projected $300,000 more in sales tax revenue and tapped $1.5 million from the county’s rainy day fund. The county will start 2012 with a fund balance of approximately $4.6 million. It used approximately $5.5 million of the fund balance for the $100.1 million 2011 budget, which carried a tax levy of $26.1 million.

The county is also applying $832,662 in tobacco settlement proceeds toward reducing the 2012 tax levy. It normally puts that money toward capital improvements.

Supervisors voted 17-3 to override the tax cap and 18-2 to adopt the budget.

Gloversville Ward 1 Supervisor Marie Born said she voted to override the tax cap out of necessity.

“We did the very best, but we had to override it,” she said.

Gloversville Ward 5 Supervisor Michael Rooney voted against both the override and the budget.

“I do not believe this budget should be $1 over what it should be. We should give the citizens the tax cap they deserve,” he said.

Johnstown Ward 3 Supervisor John Callery said the “state has forced us into this position. We can’t go any farther than we have.”

Bleecker Supervisor David Howard, chairman of the board, said the county cut programs, sold assets, performed minimal work on county roads and tapped its fund balance to bring in the budget. He said more than 80 percent of the tax levy is to pay for state-mandated programs.

“The state balanced its budget on our backs,” he said.

Broadalbin Supervisor Joseph DiGiacomo said there is nothing left to cut in the budget — “everything is mandated.”

At one point, Howard had suggested the county cut the sheriff’s road patrol, the Planning Department, the Office for the Aging and support for tourism — all non-mandated programs — to keep the budget within the tax cap. The public voiced strong support for several of these programs, and supervisors never followed through on the idea.

Linda Kemper, Northampton supervisor, said the vote to override the tax cap was “gut-wrenching,” especially in light of people losing their homes.

Categories: Schenectady County

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