By Colleen Mahoney
The Town of Concord is facing a 0.67 percent tax cap, going into its 2017 budget. Town Supervisor Gary Eppolito said the town board will be working hard to keep the budget under the tax cap, without compromising public services and safety.
Two work sessions have been set for the town board to decide on a budget, Eppolito said. He noted that in Concord, the board and supervisor work together to create a budget. Other towns have the supervisor create a budget and then the board approves it.
“We like to have a consensus here … I know it’s not the same way other towns do it,” Eppolito said. “The whole board sits down and makes the budget … it’s just easier.”
Heading into the 2017 budget year, Eppolito said staying under the low tax cap is going to be a struggle. Capital projects for municipal improvements, unlike school districts, are part of the tax cap, which can create a resistance to execute capital improvements.
“If we have to put a new sewer line in Crane Ridge … which would be a capital improvement project … that comes from our taxes,” Eppolito explained. “So some towns are waiting on their capital projects to stay under the tax cap.”
As the board sits down to work out the budget, Eppolito said they will be trying to stay under the 0.67 tax cap. By New York state law, the town can exceed the tax cap if they pass a local law prior to doing so.
Eppolito anticipates passing the local law to exceed the tax cap, “just in case.”
“We’re going to try and keep it at 0.67 … but we still have to fix roads [and] I will not compromise public safety,” he said. “We may pass a local law … I don’t want to … but to protect us, just in case.”
Eppolito believes the town can stay under the tax cap this year, but anticipates it will need to exceed it the following budget year. The town, he said, just won’t be able to afford staying under the tax cap for two years.
“Unfortunately, the money just isn’t there,” he said. “We, as a board, have to look at everything.”
According to Eppolito, the state advertises the tax cap as 2 percent, but it rarely reaches that high. The town has complained to elected officials, but hasn’t gotten anywhere.
“Most towns could live with a 2 percent tax cap … very rarely do we go over that. A 2 percent cap is reasonable,” he said. “The problem is … it’s never been 2 percent, it’s always lower.”
Moving into the budget work sessions, Eppolito said the board will be looking at every expense the town has. Ideally, he said, they would like to support all town services, but it might not be able to happen this year.
“We’re going to to look at everything … and we’re going to try very, very hard to stay under that 0.67 percent,” Eppolito said.