On Jan. 19 the New York State Senate passed legislation which called for a cap on local property tax increases, limiting them from rising more than 2 percent per year.
Wednesday night at the regular meeting of the , Mayor Lawrence Werther described the situation as “a vote that I was sorry to see pass, not that this board has ever been miss in trying to keep taxes low here.”
was , R-Mineola, the former village mayor.
“If you know the history, eight years ago I came onto the board and Jack Martins was moved up to Mayor and we had a fiscal mess,” Werther said, referring to a prior administration. “We had to take that mess in hand and unfortunately we had to raise taxes a couple of times to bring that mess under control.”
A mechanism exists in the law that would allow local municipalities like Mineola to override the cap through a two-thirds supermajority vote of the board, or four trustees voting in favor.
“The tax cap is something that shouldn’t be imposed especially in light of the fact that there are things that we can’t control and it’s very very difficult to cap which you can’t control,” Werther said.
While voting in favor of the tax cap, Martins stated during his campaign that he desired it be coupled .
Like other municipalities, Mineola is facing increasing costs. The Village of Mineola currently operates on a $21 million budget, half of which comes from property taxes. A $100,000 increase is roughly equivalent to a 1 percent tax increase.
The village’s pension contribution is set to go up in excess of $300,000, the line for tax certiorari settlements is increasing by $200,000, the collective bargaining agreement calls for a $190,000 raise, and the village’s health insurance premiums are being hiked 12 percent, or $160,000.
Mayor Werther stated that there other ways a village can raise revenue besides taxes in the hopes of having a zero percent tax increase or one that is as low as possible.
“We’re studying those very very hard,” he said, not volunteering specifics.
In regards to staffing, Werther said that “the staffing in the village right now is where it should be for ordinary circumstances,” he said.
Hearings on the budget are scheduled to be held after the March elections.