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Amityville OKs exceeding tax cap

In a move foreshadowing another difficult budget season, Amityville village trustees voted Monday night to give themselves the authority to exceed the state’s 2 percent property tax cap.

The vote is a strategic step dozens of other villages have taken or are planning to take before municipal budgets are due, many in the spring.

Mayor Peter Imbert said yesterday it was too soon to predict whether the village’s property tax levy for the coming year would exceed the cap, but that some increase is likely.

“Revenues have dried up from various sources due to this terrible recession we’re in,” he said, rattling off a grim list of growing costs: pensions, health care, energy. “These are major cost-drivers, and they’re going through the roof.”

Trustees increased property taxes by 9.7 percent last year, part of a $14.5 million budget that chipped away at recreation and village beautification programs and introduced fees for some programs that were traditionally free.

Imbert had few kind words Monday night for the tax cap — “We don’t need the government to tell us how to do a budget,” he said — but found little sympathy from village homeowners who complained about increasing property taxes.

Imbert noted that village taxes typically comprise only a small portion of a homeowner’s annual tax bill.

“We’re doing our best,” he said.

“You’ve got to try harder,” answered a resident, to applause.

Amityville trustees will begin meeting with department heads for budget reviews Monday. The final budget is due May 1.

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