Scotia residents petition board to delay vote on overriding tax cap

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PHOTOGRAPHER:

Around 100 Scotia residents have signed a petition asking the village board to delay a vote to override the tax cap for its 2022-23 budget and provide more information about the spending plan. 

The petition, started by resident Amanda Gonzalez-Barone, aims to get the village board to be more transparent regarding its budget and any possible tax increase.

“This was just announced Friday night at like 9 p.m. and only to the Village of Scotia email list,” she said. “There was no mailer, no other public notification.”

She said notice of the public hearing scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday was not posted on the village’s website under the news tab where other information has been posted before. 

Many of the people who have signed the petition didn’t even know the vote was taking place until she posted it with the petition, she said. 

A municipality is allowed to exceed the state’s tax levy cap, which is lesser the rate of inflation or 2%, by a majority vote of the governing body. 

In order to adopt the law overriding the cap, a municipality must hold a public hearing prior to the vote. The village is required to notify the public of the hearing five days before the meeting.

“It’s just a procedural thing,” said Mayor Tom Gifford about the vote.

He said the board votes to exceed the tax cap as a precautionary measure in the event the village needs to exceed the tax cap. That way, the board has already passed the law ahead of time and won’t face any penalties that could occur if they didn’t pass the law.

However, Gonzalez-Barone said, what makes the upcoming vote harder to comprehend is the fact that no budget has been released by the board yet.

“We’re just being told this is necessary,” she said. 

But, Gonzalez-Barone asked, at what point do the tax increases stop? 

In the 2019-20 budget cycle residents were taxed $13.14 per $1,000 of assessed property value. In the 2021-22 budget cycle, they were taxed $14.65 per $1,000 of assessed value, an almost 11.5% tax increase from 2019-20. 

Gifford said the last time the budget was under the tax levy cap was around five years ago. He said he doesn’t anticipate them being under this year due to increasing costs. 

MVP is raising the cost of health insurance for the village by $65,000, he said. The police department contract calls for a 1.5% increase in pay, amounting to $25,000. The fire department will receive a 2% pay increase, amounting to $18,000. Department of Public Works employees salaries will increase as well, totaling $10,000 tacked onto the budget. Garbage is also increasing by $12,000, Gifford said. 

“Those are contractual, we can’t do anything about it,” he said.

But, Gonzalez-Barone said, the board’s lack of transparency regarding the budget is causing people, including her, to lose confidence in the board. 

“I think there’s a persistent effort to keep people in the dark,” she said.

Categories: News, Schenectady County, Scotia Glenville

1 Comments
RON P February 9, 2022
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Just a thought: if the people in Scotia could realize much lower taxes by dissolving the village government and merging it into the Town of Glenville to gain administrative and other operational cost efficiencies would they want to do it? My guess is no they would not because they are willing to pay higher taxes so they can feel good about living in a village form of government.