Schenectady County

Scotia adopts a budget that overrides tax cap

Two weeks after debating whether to trim a tentative $8.64 million budget that would have overrode t

Two weeks after debating whether to trim a tentative $8.64 million budget that would have overrode the state tax cap, Scotia adopted an even larger budget.

It’s not much larger. The $8.65 million budget that was adopted last week will raise the tax levy 1.99 percent, versus the 1.84 percent levy increase proposed under the tentative budget. They both bust the cap, which was set at 1.48 percent for the village in its 2014-15 fiscal year.

This is the second year that Scotia has adopted a budget that overrides the cap. Last year, it broke the cap with a 2.7 percent levy hike.

The village, whose fiscal year begins June 1, did pass a local law earlier this year giving itself the authority to exceed the tax cap. It has done so every year since the state passed a law in 2011 limiting the annual growth of property taxes levied by local governments to 2 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is less. This year, the rate of inflation was less.

Mayor Kris Kastberg is on vacation this week and could not be reached for comment. Deputy Mayor Tom Gifford did not return a call for comment.

In late March, Kastberg told The Daily Gazette he didn’t think the village would meet the cap this year.

“We would be out of business,” he said. “It’s ridiculous.”

The adopted budget will increase the tax rate 1.78 percent, from $12.01 per $1,000 of assessed valuation to $12.22 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. The average resident with a home assessed at $125,000 would see his village taxes increase about $26 to $1,528.

Scotia has long been opposed to the state-mandated cap, which was designed to give “much-needed relief” to taxpayers, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and encourage local governments and school districts to consolidate services and use their resources wisely.

In February, Kastberg said he “fully intended” to make the cap this year but was insulted that the state “thinks they can wash all municipalities with the same brush and say we have to make this cap.” Village residents like the level of services they receive, he said, and are willing to pay for them.

Particularly upsetting to village officials was the zero pension exclusion Scotia was granted this year. In fiscal years 2012-13 and 2013-14, it was given exclusions of $50,566 and $21,314, respectively. This mean the village could have raised the tax levy by 2 percent plus the exclusion amount.

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