CANTON — Back-to-school season means annual budget preparation is beginning for New York towns.
Canton officials held an initial work session Thursday night for its 2022 fiscal year beginning Jan. 1. Town Supervisor Mary Ann Ashley said preliminary numbers have been reviewed with the town’s accounting firm, Gray & Gray and Associates, and that department requests will be fielded as additional work sessions are scheduled and drafts are formulated.
The Town Council, with a recommendation from Ms. Ashley, agreed to hold a public hearing for overriding the property tax cap at the town’s regular October meeting.
A tax cap override — even if not implemented in a final budget — requires its own public hearing and the passage of a local law, steps Canton and other local municipalities have taken in previous years as a proactive measure should the override be needed.
“It makes sense to have it available if necessary,” Councilor James T. Smith said, adding that in the last few years, overrides have ultimately not been incorporated into the town’s final budgets.
First applied to municipalities and school districts in 2012, the state’s tax cap, with some exceptions, sets the annual tax levy to whichever figure is less — the calculated inflation rate or a standard 2%. The cap for local governments operating on Jan. 1 fiscal years was 1.56% for 2021 and 2% for 2020 and 2019.
Set this summer by the state comptroller’s office, the 2022 cap is 2% for local governments on a calendar-based fiscal year, including all counties, towns and fire districts, as well as some cities and villages.
“As the economy recovers from the pandemic, local governments have seen some revenues rebound and have benefited from one-time federal financial assistance,” state Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli said, announcing the cap in July. “At the same time, the risk of inflationary cost increases and the need for investments that will stimulate economic growth and fund essential services may lead to challenging budget decisions ahead.”
Canton’s plan involves having the supervisor’s office present a draft balanced budget without overriding the cap, and Town Council will consider adjustments from that framework.
The town has been conducting meetings in a hybrid format, but councilors have agreed to revert to fully remote meetings using Zoom Technologies starting next week. The temporary move, allowed through Jan. 15 amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, is permitted under a new state law passed this week.