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A. Thomas Levin Quoted in the Long Island Herald, “Village Makes Preparations to Pierce Tax Cap”

Levin_TomThe Village of Rockville Centre began the process of considering a local law that would allow the percentage of property taxes levied against the budget to exceed the levels mandated by New York State’s property tax cap during its board meeting on Jan. 3.

Mayor Francis X. Murray described the law, named RVC 1607, as a “safety net.” It is intended as a preventative measure to head off penalties the village would face from the state if it exceeds the cap in its 2017-18 fiscal budget, which will be released in late March, according to village attorney, A. Thomas Levin.

Each year, the cap limits the increases to the amount of property taxes that can be levied against the village budget to either 2 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower.

“This law is not an increase in taxes,” explained Levin. “The village doesn’t necessarily have to raise its tax rate to you, the property owner. You may wind up paying less taxes.”

However, it would allow for the village to increase the percentage of its budget paid for by property taxes beyond what is set by the cap.

This year, the cap is set at .67 percent, according to the rate of inflation, said Levin.

Under the state’s tax cap law, local municipalities, such as the village’s board of trustees, can override the tax cap mechanism if over 60 percent of the members vote to exceed it.

For that to happen, it must first hold a public hearing before it can vote on the matter in advance of its finalized budget.

Village officials have gone through this procedure every year since the cap’s passing in 2010, and have so far not had to exceed it for the past three years, according to village officials.

If the village exceeds the cap and neglects to override ahead of passing its budget, the village would be barred from using the additional funds raised from property taxes until the following year.

Village residents at the meeting were unhappy with the idea that the village was considering increasing their property taxes. But once village officials explained the purpose of the law, their concerns appeared to lessen.

“It’s just a precautionary [measure],” said Mayor Murray at the meeting. “That’s all it is.”