County may approve tax cap option

JOHNSTOWN – The Fulton County Board of Supervisors on Monday set a June 10 public hearing on a proposed local law to override the state tax-levy cap that will be imposed on the county’s 2014 budget.

The hearing will be conducted at 1:30 p.m. that day in the Supervisor’s Chambers of the County Office Building. The local law, if approved, allows supervisors to consider overriding the annual state tax levy cap while developing next year’s county budget.

The county approved the tax-cap override option the past two years.

The county overrode the tax-levy cap by 1.7 percent in 2012, but stayed under the cap in this year’s budget. The state imposes a cap on tax-levy increases for municipalities, although the size of the cap varies by municipality based on a formula.

In other matters approved Monday by the board:

  • A resolution passed requesting special state “home rule” legislation to extend the additional mortgage tax in Fulton County. A 2011 board resolution established the additional tax in the amount of 25 cents per $100 of debt and that special state legislation expires Nov. 30. Monday’s resolution indicated that appropriate proposed legislation has already been introduced into the state Legislature to grant the county the option to extend that additional tax beyond that date.
  • The board approved a resolution declaring May to be “Mayday for Mandate Relief” to raise awareness that “decisions in Albany have a direct impact on the property tax levy.”

The resolution calls upon state lawmakers to enact legislation preventing future unfunded mandates without corresponding state aid to pay for them.

“Fulton County’s fiscal challenges are a direct result of state-imposed mandates and reduced state reimbursement,” the resolution said.

The resolution says the New York State Association of Counties identified nine state mandates that consume 90 percent of all county property taxes: Medicaid, Public Assistance/Safety Net, child welfare and preventive care, Special Education Preschool program, Early Intervention program, probation, indigent defense, youth detention and pensions.

Gloversville 2nd Ward Supervisor Frank Lauria Jr. said Fulton County’s lobbying efforts for mandate relief often fall on deaf ears in Albany.

“It seems like we go down there and they don’t care,” he said.

Lauria suggested that Fulton County and other municipalities not pay mandated costs to send a message to state lawmakers.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at manich@leaderherald.com.