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Posted on July 27, 2015 at 8:32 AM by PattiAnn Schultz
Yet again the residents of the town have been mislead by New York State in regards to the 2% Tax Cap that the state imposed in 2012. Back then the Governor proudly announced that all Towns, Villages and School Districts would have to comply with a 2% Tax Cap in the future. Well that was fine in 2012 and 2013 when the Tax Cap was 2%, but since that time, under a complex formula based on inflation, in 2014 the cap dropped to 1.66%, in 2015 to 1.56% and now the Comptroller has announced that the town must abide by a .73% Tax Cap for 2016. Looking forward they announced that the School District might be looking at a zero Tax Cap in their 2016- 2017 budget year.
I cannot begin to tell you how deflating this is for your Town Board to hear this news from the state. We just cannot meet this requirement going into 2016 when we already know that health care payments will be up 12% or $240,000 more for 2016. Also pension costs while going down some in the last year are still at record highs. Costs of raw materials are still climbing just as inflation is ready to take off once again.
I have just completed reviewing all fourteen department budgets for 2016 and I can unequivocally tell you that without cutting services in every department that the Town of Webster cannot stay under a .73% Tax Cap. To do that we would have to cut some of the services Webster residents have come to rely on and expect in their town. For example, in the Highway budget that would be cutting employees and equipment; in the Police budget it would mean cutting officers and police cars; in the Library budget it would mean cutting hours and limiting programs; in Parks and Recreation it would mean cutting employees and programs; and this would be the case in the other departments as well.
To provide the outstanding services and programs that we provide to Webster residents, the 2016 Budget cannot withstand any more downward drops in revenue or any more program and service cuts. This has already been expressed to the town, in writing, by Moody’s Investors Services and Standard and Poor’s; both of whom have informed the town that taking any more money out of our reserves will result in them down grading our bond ratings.
I, along with the Town Board, want to maintain the quality of services that we have been offering in the past. Asking us to stay under a .73% tax cap is unfair to the residents of Webster. The Town Board wants to maintain our Public Safety, continue to provide first class snow plowing and road maintenance, enhance your Library experience and continue the recreation opportunities for our community. This cannot be done under a .73% tax cap.
I am not going to fall in to the Governor’s trap of bigger government and consolidation means lower taxes because in our case that is not appropriate for Webster. In my twenty years on the Town Board town taxes have gone up thirty-eight cents from $4.22 in 1997 to $4.60 in 2015. That works out to be less than two cents per year for twenty years. I and the Town Board have been watching over your money and services for a long time and we have done an excellent job in controlling spending, providing first class services, and keeping the tax rate stable.
I mention this because 2016 is going to be a bumpy year and I can almost predict that Webster will have a tax increase coming its way. There is no way around it without gutting services and equipment which you will only pay for in the future. The expression “pay me now or pay me later” certainly is true in Webster right now.
Once again, I ask you to talk to Town Board members Randy Nelson, Barry Deane, Patti Cataldi, and Bill Abbott about the plight of this .73%. Or if you see some of the departments heads in your travels around our building ask them how this Tax Cap is limiting their capabilities to provide services that are crucial to their department.
The Public Hearing for the 2016 Budget will be on Thursday, October 1st at 7:30 p.m. where any Webster resident with questions can appear before the Town Board.
If you have any questions about your town government, please feel free to contact me during regular business hours at (585) 872-7068; or email me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org
Ronald W. Nesbitt