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Steve Hancox is deputy comptroller for local governments. He says despite an extensive effort to educate local officials, some towns did the calculations wrong, and others didn’t seem aware of the 2-percent property tax cap. But Hancox doesn’t think it was a willful disregard of the new law.
"I believe, and Comptroller DiNapoli certainly believes, that virtually all the local government made a good faith effort to try to comply with the tax law. Generally speaking, it was an honest mistake," Hancox said.
In northern New York, the towns of Pamelia, Croghan, Clifton, Edwards and Parishville all exceeded the tax cap. Some were surprised to hear about their mistake. Pamelia Supervisor Lawrence Longway told the Watertown Daily Times – quote – “It blew my mind.” He says the town didn’t realize that tax hikes by the sewer district were included in the town’s tax levy.
Hancox says recent tax bills in many of these towns were too high. "Any excess levy must be placed in a reserve and used to offset next year’s tax levy. If you raise money you weren’t allowed to raise, you can’t use that to fund your current budget," he said.
Hancox says towns that don’t correct the tax bills will get a formal letter from the comptroller’s office in the next few weeks, detailing what actions they need to take.