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Dobbs Ferry Discusses Possibly Overriding Tax Cap

DOBBS FERRY, N.Y. – While no formal decision was made on Tuesday night, the Dobbs Ferry Board of Trustees discussed potentially overriding the state mandated 2 percent tax levy cap in the near future.

“I think we do want to send a message” to legislators in Albany, said Mayor Hartley Connett.  “I think this plan the state has come up with is untenable and it’s wrong.”

The law was passed by state legislators last year and limits the annual growth of property taxes levied by municipalities and school districts to 2 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is less.  The tax cap can be overridden by the government body though by a 60 percent majority vote.

“A big part of the problem is that this is not always clear,” Connett said.  “It’s really about risk management for the village.”

Village Administrator Marcus Serrano made a presentation to the board about the tax cap and what it could mean for the village going forward.  Serrano recommended the board override the cap if for no other reason than to protect itself.

“Even though you might be below it, it’s just to protect yourselves three, four, five years from now,” he said.

Any errors in calculating the tax could possibly go unnoticed for several years before being noticed by the state, causing the village to pay a compounded penalty for any oversights.

“I think it is the prudent thing to do,” said Bob McLoughlin, the chair of the Dobbs Ferry Budget Committee.  “An unforced error could be very costly for the village.

Several residents agreed with overriding the cap and many said they would put their trust in the board to do what is best for the village.

“I think you need to give yourself all the tools you can so you’re not going to box yourself in and you can do what is best for the village of Dobbs Ferry” said resident Paddy Steinschneider.

The board delayed the decision rather than vote on Tuesday night because of concerns over the perception of overriding the tax cap could have.  The board said it doesn’t want residents to think that overriding the cap would mean that it will not still work to stay under the 2 percent threshold or that this would raise taxes more.  Rather this is more or less an insurance policy, trustees said.

The board decided to wait as a decision will not be needed until May 1 before the village budget is approved.  Connett said the issue would be raised again at the next board meeting on March 27.

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