Chatham plans to disable tax cap

CHATHAM–There’s a good chance town residents may be paying higher property taxes in 2013.

At the town board meeting Thursday, September 20 town Supervisor Jesse DeGroodt said the town may need to override the state’s property tax cap to meet its financial obligations next year.

“I can almost promise you we will,” said Mr. DeGroodt.

The Town Board is required to pass a local law to override the 2% property tax cap pushed through the state legislature by Governor Cuomo last year. The cap became effective for towns in the 2012 fiscal year.

Mr. DeGroodt asked the Town Attorney Tal Rappleyea to prepare legal language so the board can call a public hearing on the matter on November 15.

After the meeting, Mr. DeGroodt told The Columbia Paper the main reason the town is likely to increase its 2013 budget is because the Highway Department needs to replace old equipment.

“We have equipment that is now beginning to rapidly age,” said Mr. DeGroodt. “For a few years, we’ve been doing a lot of repairs, but you can only repair for so long.”

“We’d just be throwing good money after bad,” he said.

The base amount of the state’s property tax cap is a 2% increase in the levy over the last year or the inflation rate, whichever is less. According to numbers provided by the state’s Office of Management and Budget, a 2% increase would in the 2012 tax levy, would give Chatham the opportunity for a nearly $1.8 million dollar levy, without overriding the property tax cap.

In other business, the board:

*Heard a report from Highway Superintendent Joe Rickert, who said there was good news to report about the East Chatham bridge. CSX Transportation, the railroad that owns the bridge, has now agreed to repair the span so the weight limit can return to 20 tons. The bridge’s weight limit was reduced to four tons after it failed a review by the state Department of Transportation in August.

Mr. Rickert also spoke about flooding on Riders Mills Road, which is ongoing after Hurricane Irene helped create a sinkhole near a NYSEG power line right-of-way.

Mr. Rickert said repairs to the White Mills Road bridge are still on track

*Heard a report from Environmental Management Council member Deirdre Henderson, who said the TCI fire in Ghent has been a main topic for the committee. She said on October 8 Dr. David Carpenter, director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at the University at Albany’s School of Public Health, will speak about “what the tests mean and what tests we should make sure were done”

*Appointed Cathy Bell town historian effective immediately, replacing Claire Wheeler, who recently retired

*Postponed a vote on the revision of a law that creates a town Conservation Advisory Council. Several members of the board said they wanted to give the public another month to comment

*Set Thursday, October 4 at 7 p.m. for a budget presentation and budget workshop. Another budget workshop is tentatively scheduled for Thursday, October 11 at 7 p.m.

The board’s next regular meeting takes place Thursday, October 18 at 7 p.m.


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