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Watts shifts blame to Coyne for Cairo's major tax errors

Jan 19, 2023 12:45 pm

Roger Hannigan Gilson in the Times Union gives his account of the massive errors from the Town of Cairo that have residents paying much more in local taxes then promised. Cairo Town Supervisor Jason Watts told residents last year that their property taxes were going up by 0.5 percent. But just before the year changed, Watts announced a clerical error, and the property tax levy was actually rising 7.5 percent. Then Watts said the town made a similar error the year before, and left the door open for more clerical errors in previous years. At a Jan. 9 Cairo town meeting Watts said, "I cannot apologize to you guys enough." Watts first claimed a former bookkeeper made the error, and the current bookkeeper worked off the former bookkeeper's erroneous spreadsheets. In a new interview Watts now blames former Town Supervisor John Coyne, who was the first to discover the town's error in December, posting about it on social media. "We went off the numbers of a previous administration, and they were wrong," Watts said. The Times Union asked Coyne to comment on the Watts accusation and "Coyne pointed out that Watts was part of the Town Board that had voted for the 2022 budget that also erroneously calculated the tax levy, but declined further comment." So far, the Town of Cairo is not sure how much the mistakes will cost but the $435,000 to repair the town hall's roof and crumbling sidewalks surrounding the building is now being held off. "We're not going to be able to do that this year," Watts said. "The town is still going to run, we're just not going to be able to make (the repairs)." Cairo holds a public hearing on the issue at 7 p.m. Jan. 25. Read the full story in the Times Union.