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News Release

October 24, 2011      

For Further Information Contact:
William R. Steinhaus, County Executive
(845) 486-2000

Steinhaus’ 2012 Budget Proposal will be within Property Tax Cap


Poughkeepsie… Although several counties across New York State have already announced their 2012 budgets will not be able to stay within the newly enacted property tax limit because there was no corresponding state mandate relief, Dutchess County Executive William R. Steinhaus has announced the 2012 county budget proposal he will submit on November 1st will not exceed the property tax levy cap. Other counties across the state are choosing to override the property tax levy cap with a 60% majority vote as allowed by the state legislation.

“My 2012 county budget proposal will keep the county property tax levy within the allowable property tax cap calculation,” said Dutchess County Executive Steinhaus.  “However, in typical dysfunctional New York State government style, the calculation of the property tax cap is not as clear cut and simple as the Governor and state legislators have portrayed it. The ‘state tax cap’ is convoluted and certain to be confusing for residents.”

It is important for residents to understand that, according to the state legislation, the tax cap limit is not calculated by simply adding 2% to the current year’s tax levy, but instead is based on the 16 point calculation formula provided by the New York State Comptroller’s Office.   Dutchess County’s 2012 county property tax levy limit is currently projected to be between 3% and 4%.

Calculation of the property tax cap is a complicated process and is subject to guidelines from the New York State Comptroller’s Office which are not yet even finalized. Several webinars and regional presentations have been hosted by the NYS Comptroller’s Office to answer the multitude of questions from county, city, town, village and school district officials about how to properly calculate the property tax levy cap under the state mandated legislation. Although the Comptroller’s Office provides answers to more than 50 Frequently Asked Questions on its website, there are still some unknowns about how to calculate each municipality’s rates.    Dutchess County Budget Director Valerie Sommerville, budget staff, and some county legislators have participated in several training opportunities provided by the Comptroller’s Office in order to get an understanding of the tax cap calculation. The State Comptroller’s Office has been inundated with questions from local officials across the state who are trying to correctly make the calculation in time for their budget development.

According to the New York State Government Finance Officers’ Association (GFOA), describing the new law “as limiting the taxes New Yorkers will have to pay on their real property is misleading.” Media reports about the property tax levy cap have been inconsistent. Most report only reference 2% property tax cap and leave out the word “levy.” The calculations provided in the new state law do not apply to the calculation of the tax rate on real property – the calculations strictly apply to the calculation of the real property tax levy.   More information about how the real property tax levy percentage cap and the real property tax rate differ can be found here:

The new property tax levy cap limit is a daunting challenge for officials at local government levels since the state mandate relief originally promised was not delivered as part of the final enacted legislation.     The legislation limits local tax increases, but the state is still requiring county governments to provide a broad range of state mandated services where costs continue to rise in the millions of dollars. Some of the state mandated costs include:

  • County contributions to the state operated Medicaid system.
  • Early intervention and preschool education.
  • Mandatory contributions to the state retirement system for employee pensions.

Counties across the state are taking a variety of approaches to deal with the impacts of the new property tax levy cap. Some counties are opting to override the state set cap.   Many counties are being forced to slash local programs and services including public safety, senior programs and veterans services. Other counties are putting pressure on Albany politicans to deliver the promised mandate relief in 2012 and budgeting only for partial year funding for specific programs and services.

“In Dutchess County, we have operated under our own property tax cap for many years, successfully restructuring and realigning county government over the years to cut costs for our property taxpayers. However, the increased demands of new, enhanced, expensive  and growing state mandates continue,” said County Executive Steinhaus. “State elected officials are congratulating themselves for delivering ‘property tax relief.’ What they have delivered is a complicated calculation that even their own State Comptroller’s Office cannot fully explain and legislation that fails to address the huge impact of state imposed mandates on property taxes. If state officials realistically expect the property tax levy cap to be successful, they must act responsibly and provide real and significant mandate relief, as promised.  Otherwise, they have again failed the residents they claim to serve,” concluded Steinhaus.

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County Executive

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