With a 17% town tax increase for 2013 on the table, Town Board members decided last Thursday night the time had finally come to vote to override the state’s 2% tax cap on the 2013 town budget.
Although there is still plenty of time to bring the 17% increase down over the next few weeks, money needed for mandated employee benefits and an increase in debt service will break the cap all by themselves and cannot be avoided.
Additional upward pressure is being brought to bear by Town Supervisor Peter Parsons’ inclusion of money for a road-resurfacing program and highway equipment repair in the 2013 budget. All told, Mr. Parsons is asking for $890,260 more than last year.
No way out
Town Board members faced the music last Thursday as it became obvious there was no way they could avoid breaking the cap, by a little or a lot.
“It’s not tenable for us to stay within the 2% figure put out by the state,” Town Board member Frank Kelly said. “There are levels of town government that have to be provided. We cannot do away with town government.”
Town Board member Peter DeLucia urged his colleagues to concentrate on keeping the increase as low as possible. “During these lean years, let’s keep our numbers low and build up our surplus,” he said.
Officials may not break the 2% cap without first hearing from the public, so they set a public hearing date of Monday, Nov. 19, at 8 p.m. at the Lewisboro Library.
Mr. Parsons told The Ledger he was satisfied the board had finally taken the step of moving ahead with breaking the tax cap.
“In theory we can do a lot of things, like abolish our police force or close Parks & Recreation to keep under the cap, but that’s not likely,” he said. “Breaking the cap is our only real option.”
Unlike the Katonah-Lewisboro school district, the town can simply override the state’s 2% tax cap with a majority vote of its five-member board. The school district requires a referendum with 60% approval from the public.