Schoharie County

Schoharie County supervisors asked to exceed tax cap

For the first time in his six terms in office, Schoharie County Treasurer Bill Cherry is considering

For the first time in his six terms in office, Schoharie County Treasurer Bill Cherry is considering the possibility of exceeding the state’s tax cap for the county’s 2016 budget.

Cherry emailed the Board of Supervisors earlier this month recommending that the board adopt a local law to prepare the way for a tax-cap override.

“That’s never anything I had to do before and I’m certainly not anxious to do that now,” Cherry said last week. In his email to the board, he said, “Of course, the final decision on the budget will be made by the Board of Supervisors.”

According to Cherry, the state Comptroller’s Office has set the tax cap at an increase of .73 percent, which would mean only about $147,000 when the county is looking at $1.5 to $1.8 million in additional spending next year from increases in health insurance premiums, the creation of the county administrator position, and the first year of repayments for the county’s $25 million stream bank reconstruction project.

“Once the departmental requests are submitted, there is a chance that the figure could go even higher,” Cherry wrote.

The county hired its first full-time administrator this month at a salary of $100,000. And while all the construction costs for the post-Tropical Storm Irene stream bed reconstruction project are paid for with federal and state funding, the county is on the hook for between $2 million and $3 million in engineering costs.

Cherry said last week that he was currently meeting with department heads and plans to present a tentative budget to the Board of Supervisors by Oct. 15.

The board has 15 days after that to review the budget before proposing a local law to allow the board to exceed the tax cap if necessary. The law must pass by a two-thirds weighted vote.

Board of Supervisors Chairman and town of Richmondville Supervisor Richard Lape said Tuesday it was too early to know whether that measure would have to be taken.

“Right now, we don’t know the numbers,” he said. ” So as we go through that process with the tentative [budget], we’ll know better. Right now, we just don’t know until we have real numbers.”

This is Cherry’s last year as budget officer. The new administrator is expected to take over that role at the beginning of the new year.

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