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Northport village says it may have to bust the tax cap for budget

Northport Village Hall in Northport is seen on

Northport Village Hall in Northport is seen on Dec. 27, 2014. Photo Credit: Ian J. Stark

Northport officials say it’s likely they will need to bust the tax cap as the village faces a projected 0.68 percent limit on its levy increase for fiscal year 2017-2018.

“For us to meet our mandated expenses, 0.68 percent really isn’t going to do it, unless we were going to cut services in the village,” Village treasurer Leonard Marchese said at a board meeting Tuesday night. “We really need the option to override that cap so we can ... bring in enough revenue to pay for services.”

The property tax cap will likely change from the current projection, but it’s expected to remain well below 1 percent, Marchese said. He cited five years of “very minimal” levy increases, along with contractual increases in salaries and other fixed costs as contributing to the anticipated difficulty for Northport to meet a cap below 1 percent.

The village will hold a public hearing on a resolution that would give Northport officials the authority to bust the cap. The hearing is at 6 p.m., Oct. 18 at village hall, 224 Main Street.

Officials won’t decide whether to actually surpass the cap until after the budget process begins in December.

Northport’s current budget is $20.4 million, which included a 2.93 percent levy increase, surpassing a 0.55 percent cap.

“We’ll be doing everything we can to keep any increase to the village’s budget as low as possible,” Deputy Mayor Henry Tobin said. “If we find that we need to exceed the cap, we’ll give every explanation.”

Busting the cap would require a 60 percent majority vote, or at least three of the village’s five-member board.

Northport officials must approve a final 2017-2018 budget by Feb. 1, Tobin said. The new fiscal year begins March 1, 2017.

Marchese said raising property taxes is the fairest way to generate revenue, and a more transparent method than raising or creating new fees and fines.

It “spreads the cost of government equally amongst all the residents,” he said. “Those typically that have more expensive homes have to pay a little bit more money, but that’s just the way the system works.”

New York State had a tax rebate program for residents living in municipalities that stayed within the tax cap. But the incentive program to encourage local governments to stay within the cap is expiring, said Morris Peters, a spokesman for the state Division of Budget.

As a result, residents in cap-compliant municipalities will no longer get rebates in the next fiscal year, he said.

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