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'Typographical or accounting error' cited as cause of Cairo's tax levy goof

Dec 30, 2022 1:15 pm
Andrea Macko is reporting for Porcupine Soup town of Cairo residents and officials received unpleasant news this week when they determined the town’s 2023 tax levy increase is 7.5 percent, nearly 15 times higher than the 0.513 percent that Town Supervisor Jason Watts projected when the town board adopted the budget on November 7. Because 7.5 percent far exceeds the state’s tax cap, the board held a short emergency meeting on the afternoon of December 29 and adopted a local law to override that cap. However, questions remain as to whether the board acted too late and exactly how the mistake was made in the first place. “We realized just last night, notwithstanding the fact that we thought the tax levy was going to go up by 0.5 percent, that when tax bills came out it is actually 7.5 percent,” Town Attorney Tal Rappleyea explained during the emergency meeting. “We don’t know how this happened,” he said. “The only thing we can think of is there was some type of typographical or accounting error in the document that the town presented on the night of the public hearing.” The board ultimately voted unanimously to override the tax cap, with Watts, board members Mary-Jo Cords and Debra Bogins present. Members Tim Powers and Michael Flaherty were absent. In an email, Powers said that while he had voted to adopt the 2023 budget in November, he did so because Watts told the board the tax levy increase was going to be less than percent. What's more, he said, “The emergency meeting was supposed to be at 7 p.m. [on Thursday], but after I indicated that I was against overriding the tax cap and wanted to rescind the entire budget they moved the meeting to 1 p.m. They knew I couldn’t be there due to work.” The announcement of the emergency meeting, called Thursday morning, was posted on the door to town hall. No notices were placed on the town’s website or Facebook page and, to date, there is no 2023 budget information available at townofcairo [dot] com. Under state law, local governments must keep the annual tax levy increase at or below the cap or adopt a local law to override the cap. In October the Cairo Town Board conducted the required public hearing in anticipation of adopting a local law, but never followed through. Resident and local attorney Monica Kenny-Keff told Rappleyea from the audience the state does not allow local governments to retroactively override the tax cap. “This has to be in place and passed before the vote on the budget,” she said. Read the full story at porcupine soup [dot] com.
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