JOHNSTOWN - As it did last year, the Fulton County Board of Supervisors is considering overriding the state-mandated tax-levy cap that will be imposed on the county's 2013 budget.
The board last week scheduled a public hearing on a proposed law to override the tax cap. The hearing will be conducted at 2 p.m. Aug. 13 in the supervisors' chambers of the County Office Building. The local law would give supervisors the option to override the cap.
In legislation spearheaded by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in early 2011, the state imposed a 2 percent cap on increases in the tax levy for municipalities and school districts.
The cap actually ended up being 3.76 percent for Fulton County, according to the state comptroller's office. Calculations vary by county and are based on various exclusions and allowable budget adjustments involving such factors as payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreements pending in the county.
Fulton County, which is in the beginning of its budget process for 2013, doesn't know its tax-cap limit yet. Counties are allowed to pass their own laws allowing an override.
"I'm concerned about bills we haven't planned on," said Johnstown 3rd Ward Supervisor Jack Callery.
County Administrative Officer Jon Stead added, "You're going to definitely be beyond that cap to start with [in the budget process]."
The county didn't hold last year's public hearing on the override option until Nov. 28. A short time later, the board adopted a $93 million 2012 county budget that reduced spending by $7 million, but raised the average property tax rate 5.5 percent thanks to the override legislation.
The resolution approved July 9 calls for a hearing on a new local law that complies with state General Municipal Law by triggering the override option before supervisors adopt the 2013 county budget.
The Board of Supervisors usually doesn't adopt the county budget until the end of the year.
Johnstown 4th Ward Supervisor William Waldron, board vice chairman, said the county didn't receive any financial mandate relief from the state last year, so the override is in order. He said the override is needed so the county "won't be suckered" into a state audit.
"I believe we definitely should do away with their 2 percent cap," Waldron said.
Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.