On the agenda for the May 15, 2012, meeting of the City of Amsterdam Common Council are two proposals by Mayor Ann Thane that prophylactically override the tax caps for property tax and utility fees. This is being considered without even the suggestion of a tentative budget proposal from the Controller. It is irresponsible to the taxpaying public to propose a blanket override without even attempting to make the necessary cuts in the budget to reduce the need to raise our already heavily taxed citizens. Here is how Montgomery County stands.
Thane’s proposal to override Governor Cuomo’s 2% tax cap can be found here.
The procedure to override the Governor’s tax cap is spelled out in this Citizen’s Property Tax Cap Guide published by New York State.
Thane’s proposal to amend the Charter Section XVI § C-89 eliminates the current required mandatory referendum to change the 3% utility fee cap already in place can be found here.
One would think that the Mayor learned something from last years public meeting held in the Riverfront Center, where she tried to do this very same thing and was confronted by a horde of angry citizens. That May 16, 2011, meeting was covered in the Grove Street Grumble article The People Speak.
History is definitely going to repeat itself as the people object to this illegal act. New York State Municipal Home Rule law dictates which local laws can be passed.
Municipal Home Rule Article 2 §11. Restrictions on the adoption of local laws.
2. Notwithstanding any provision of this chapter, the legislative body of a county, city or village shall not be authorized by this chapter to adopt any local law which:
a. Amends the charter of the county, city or village, as the case may be, contrary to any provisions of such charter regulating its own amendment. This provision shall not abridge the right of the people of a county, city or village to amend their charter or approve a proposed new charter, where such amendment or proposed new charter is subject to a mandatory referendum.
b. The legislative body is by provision of the charter prohibited to adopt.
Look at the language of the City Charter Section XVI § C-89 Annual Tax Levy.
A. The amount to be raised by tax on real estate in any fiscal year, in addition to providing for the interest on and the principal of all indebtedness, shall not exceed 1% of the average full valuation of taxable real estate in such year; nor shall the real property tax rate or any user fee in any fiscal year exceed by 3% the rate or fee of the previous fiscal year, exclusive of any amounts appropriated for debt service.
B. If in any fiscal year it is deemed necessary and in the interest of the municipality to increase the percentage rate established, the Common Council with the approval of the Mayor may submit such request for increase as a mandatory referendum to be voted on by the voters at a regular or special election. No new user fee may be established without the prior approval of the electorate pursuant to the above procedure.
We have a Charter that states any increase in the percentage rate will be voted on by mandatory referendum. A local law cannot supersede that Charter provision. It will take another mandatory referendum to change it. The Mayor and Common Council have no authority to amend the City Charter without referendum.
Please contact the Mayor and Aldermen and tell them we do NOT want to override either tax cap.
Mayor Ann Thane – firstname.lastname@example.org
1st Ward Alderman Joe Isabel – email@example.com
2nd Ward Alderman Valerie Beekman – firstname.lastname@example.org
3rd Ward Alderman Gina DeRossi – email@example.com
4th Ward Alderman Dave Dybas – firstname.lastname@example.org
5th Ward Alderman Richard Leggiero – email@example.com