- Associated Press - Monday, July 20, 2015

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - Property tax increases may be limited to less than 1 percent next year for more than 1,800 jurisdictions around the state, which could be problematic for local governments, New York’s comptroller reported Monday.

That includes all counties, towns and fire districts, as well as 44 cities and 10 villages whose fiscal year starts Jan. 1, according to the comptroller’s office.

“Local government officials need to brace for the lowest growth in their property tax revenue in the tax cap era,” Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli sad. “Even tougher budget choices may be required on staffing levels, delivery of services, fund balance reductions, and deferral of capital and infrastructure projects.”

The cap on property tax hikes, which began in 2012, limits increases to the lesser of the inflation rate or 2 percent, with some exemptions, like pension costs. The limit for 2016 is 0.73 percent.

For school districts and local governments whose fiscal year starts later in 2016, DiNapoli said they could face a cap based on an even lower inflation rate with zero allowable growth.

A provision in the law lets municipalities override it.

Counties, cities, towns and villages can pass a local law to exceed the cap and fire districts can pass a resolution. However, an override requires at least 60 percent board approval. School districts can seek to override their cap, but that requires at least 60 percent voter support.

Most have stayed under the annual cap, DiNapoli said. “They may have less flexibility moving forward,” he said.

In a June letter to lawmakers, who subsequently voted to extend the cap, the statewide groups representing counties, towns and village and city mayors urged major changes, saying they were already using austerity spending, trimming staff and spending fund balances to stay under the cap.

They advocated making it 2 percent yearly, like the state’s annual goal, and not tied to inflation. The also urged exempting infrastructure projects, noting school districts and the state also have that.




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