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[Most] expenses...are things like highway crews and fire protection, that I’m not sure people would like to get rid of, you know?

Massena overrides 2% property tax cap--just in case

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Massena's town council says it doesn't want to raise property taxes more than 2% for next year. But after it passed a new law allowing it to override the cap, that option is there if needed.

The council voted 5-nothing to pass the law...after holding a required public forum on Wednesday night.

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Nora Flaherty
Digital Editor, News

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Town Councilman John Macaulay says most people on the council agree with the idea of minimizing taxes as much as possible—but the cap wasn’t well-thought-out before it was enacted:

we pretty much don’t have a choice. Most of us on the board feel the state didn’t think clearly through this. You can put a cap in place and if you don’t change the mandated things you have to pay all you’ve done is put all the political pressure on the local governments and taken it off yourself at the state level.

Most of those at Wednesday’s forum spoke against overriding the cap. The Watertown Daily Times reports former town supervisor W. Gary Edwards suggested cutting financial support to non-profits like meals on wheels; and taking a closer look at library funding. Others were concerned raising property taxes would negatively impact the town’s business climate.

 But Councilman Macaulay says between state-mandated expenses and lower revenues from sales tax, the money coming into the town just isn’t enough for even a bare-bones budget. And he says the town’s already spending money very carefully:

The vast majority of the expenses charged to the town are things like highway crews and fire protection, that I’m not sure people would like to get rid of, you know what I’m trying to say?

Massena is among the first municipalities to take steps to override the cap. Macaulay says the town wanted to put the law in place before its final budget is due in Mid-November. Under Town Supervisor Joseph Gray’s proposed budget, taxes will increase by 13%—the town council will attempt to bring that increase down to 2% before passing it.

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