Johnsburg town budget barely under 2 percent tax cap

— Bumping into the New York state-mandated 2 percent tax cap, but not breaking it, Johnsburg Town Supervisor Sterling Goodspeed’s budget will mark a 1.98 percent increase to the tax levy over last year's.

The 2012 budget moved from tentative status to a public, preliminary document at the Oct. 18 town meeting.

The budget will cut funding to the town library, the Hudson Headwaters Healthcare Network and the Depot Association, which Goodspeed helped found.

Increases will be made to emergency medical services and the town's highway department.

The cuts are hard, said Goodspeed, but before the town increases taxes or borrows money for programs or projects it should make those difficult cuts.

“Your first directive should be to send me back to make people more unhappy,” Goodspeed said. “This town is financially healthy, this budget is essentially sound, some organizations are hurt, but in times like this, it has to be that way.”

Town board member Ron Vanselow commended Goodspeed on his work with the budget and keeping increases under the 2 percent cap, but said the town needed the option to break the cap.

A hearing on exceeding the tax cap will precede the town's next meeting, moved from Nov. 1 to Nov. 3 to also accommodate for the budget hearing.

Why put the budget out for public input if staying under the tax cap is the biggest priority, asked Vanselow. If there's no flexibility in the budget, all input will be wasted, he said.

Board member Arnold Stevens said, “We went into this with our hands tied,” and voted aye to begin the tax cap break process. The only opposing voice was Goodspeed's.

“I think the cap is a dumb law,” said Goodspeed, citing a 21 percent increase in worker's comp costs and a 100 percent increase in health insurance costs, along with the unfunded mandates all towns deal with.

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