We established a Public Hearing for October 4th on a local law to override the property tax cap for the 2017 budget. You may recall this process from previous years. Current property tax cap legislation was passed by New York in 2011. It limits the annual increase in the tax levy to the lesser of 2% or the rate of inflation (now well less than 1%) - unless governments pass a local law to override it. Why do we need to do this during budget season? The short answer is that adjusting by the inflation rate often just doesn’t cut it. Some critical town expenses can increase more than the rate of inflation, like health care and pension costs for our employees, and there may be periodic need for investment in maintenance of town buildings and equipment, as is currently the case for the Old Town Hall and Highway Barns. The Local Law to Override the Tax Cap enables the town to make budgetary decisions attuned to the needs of the town, regardless of whether the number pencils below or above an arbitrary cap. An overriding principle for me is to always gauge budget decisions based on the welfare of the residents of Caroline, while working to minimize increases in property taxes so that Caroline remains an affordable place to live.
Over the past few months we have been engaged with Renovus Solar in developing a proposal for a Community Solar Farm to cover some of our municipal electrical usage. Faced with the decision of whether to commit or not, we resolved to hold off for now. While the Renovus project would have supported a local renewable energy project with projected cost savings, as a board we agreed that because the possibilities for large-scale solar projects are evolving, we should learn more before making this kind of long-term commitment. Our hope is for a renewable energy project that will include both the town and its residents.
Caroline Town Supervisor