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The Times
  • Common Council to be asked to set hearing on tax cap override

  • The Little Falls Common Council will be asked to set a public hearing on an override to the state-mandated property tax cap when they meet Tuesday night at 7 p.m. in the Common Council chambers at City Hall. Mayor Robert Peters said during a telephone interview Monday afternoon the ove...
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  • The Little Falls Common Council will be asked to set a public hearing on an override to the state-mandated property tax cap when they meet Tuesday night at 7 p.m. in the Common Council chambers at City Hall.

    Mayor Robert Peters said during a telephone interview Monday afternoon the override would simply be a precautionary measure in the event the 2013 budget could not be balanced within the limits of the two percent.
    “We don’t know what is going to happen with the budget just yet,” he said. “There are a lot of unknowns associated with they city’s budget and with the state’s budget, so this would give the city the ability to legally surpass the two percent cap if need be.”
    Peters said a vote to schedule the hearing or to override the cap would not automatically mean property taxes would rise more than two percent in the new budget.
    “I can understand why residents and council members would be against voting to override the cap, but it would leave the city’s options open. It would be a safety measure in case the city has to go over the two percent for one reason or another,” he said.
    Municipalities have the ability to exceed the property tax cap enacted by the state Legislature in 2011 by a majority vote of its governing body. To do that, or to at least consider it, a public hearing is needed to allow residents to weigh in.
    “Every year is a difficult budget year,” said Peters. “With shrinking aid and the cost of everything continuing to go up, the two percent cap is getting to be less and less realistic. Health insurance costs and retirement contributions go up more than two percent each year. These are things the city really has no control over. Something has to give.”
    The mayor said the city is starting its budget process now.
    “No one wants to surpass the cap, and no one is planning on doing so, but it’s an option I believe the city should leave open,” he said. “I know it’s a late start to the budget process, and I know there a some tough decisions that have to be made, but these are decisions that were first discussed when the budget was adopted last year. There’s some $270,000 that has to come out of the budget right now. It’s not an easy task, especially when you have to look at services people have become accustomed to.”
    The city’s 2012 budget totaled $5,845,247 and fell within the two percent property tax cap. The unanimously adopted budget raised taxes to $92.12 per thousand of assessed valuation, a 1.99 percent increase from the 2011 budget.
    In addition to considering a resolution to set a public hearing on an override to property tax cap the Common Council is expected to vote on an appointment to the city’s Urban Renewal Agency Board of Directors and on a resolution to authorize the URA to increase the maximum amount of grant awards at Tuesday night’s meeting.

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