Johnstown council acts to exceed tax levy cap

JOHNSTOWN — The Common Council on Monday took formal action to exceed the state-imposed tax levy cap contained in the city’s proposed $12.7 million 2017 budget.

The council approved a local law allowing the city to adopt a budget for next year that requires a real property tax levy in excess of the tax levy limit, as defined by state General Municipal Law.

Interim Mayor Cindy Lakata said the state tax cap for the city represents a 0.78 percent levy increase. She noted “anything above that” requires the city to file formal action with the state Department of State.

City officials have a currently proposed budget that carries a roughly 9 percent property tax-rate hike.

City Treasurer Michael Gifford has said about $360,000 would have to be cut from the tax levy to reach the tax cap.

As proposed, a city home assessed at $50,000 would see an increase of about $50 in its tax bill. A home assessed at $100,000 would see an increase of about $100.

The tentative budget carries a $5.4 million levy — an increase of $441,000. The tax rate is slated to increase by $1.03 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, or 9 percent — from $11.36 per $1,000 to $12.39.

During a public hearing on the law Monday, Elizabeth Russo, of 302 Glebe St., asked if the city faces any repercussions for exceeding the state’s tax levy cap.

Lakata said there won’t be, including no cuts to state aid.

City Attorney Michael Poulin said there should be a fairly quick turnaround by the state to approve the city’s local law.

“We’re going to have to have another meeting to adopt our budget,” Lakata said.

The council decided to have a meeting at 7 p.m. Dec. 5, at which time the city’s final 2017 budget may be adopted.

Mayor-elect Vern Jackson said the council decided during a special meeting Saturday not to take any of the city’s $278,000 allocation to the Johnstown Public Library budget to reduce the city’s levy further for 2017.

“We decided to leave well enough alone this year,” Jackson said.

Jackson also mentioned the city Water Board also recently adopted its proposed 2017 budget and six-year plan.

Lakata said the Water Department budget is available for public inspection at City Hall.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at [email protected]

By Patricia Older

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