Town of Cairo has been misleading citizens about tax rate at least two years
Cairo held a town meeting Jan. 9, the first chance for the public to question town officials since they announced Cairo violated the state's tax cap, and that residents weren't getting a 0.51 percent increase in taxes, they were actually going up by 7.5 percent. At the meeting, Cairo Town Supervisor Jason Watts admitted the mistake, which he claimed was a clerical error. He also said the town made the same mistake the year before, and he left the door open that the town might also have announced the wrong tax rate in previous years. Watts apologized to taxpayers for the mistakes, saying, CLICK HERE. TO PLAY OR DOWNLOAD EXCERPT OF WATT'S ADDRESS. Watts also said a number of confusing things, such as that the town had a forensic accountant going over Cairo's books, but she was not being paid yet. He said her name was Nicole, but did not give her last name. She seemed shocked that she was speaking at a public meeting, and seemed to think she was there to talk to the town board only. Cairo taxpayers will now see several previously promised projects be put on hold, as the town now must operate on the original 0.51 percent tax increase, and then put all the other money from charging taxpayers a 7.5 percent increase into an escrow account for next year. Cairo will have to do the same process for last year's budget, which was similarly advertised by the town as a very low tax increase that turned out was much higher. So far the town has violated the tax cap, did not set up an escrow account for last year yet, and misled taxpayers for at least two years, and possibly more. Investigators will likely determine if these clerical errors were gross incompetence or worse. WGXC has a full recording of the Cairo Town Board meeting on the WGXC Newsroom and in the Audio Archives.