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Ossining Board Sets Hearing For Tax Cap Override

OSSINING, N.Y. – The Village Board of Trustees will hold a public hearing next month for a law that would allow the village to override the two percent property tax cap.

At its meeting Tuesday night the board passed the resolution to hold a public hearing on the law, which would allow Ossining to override the tax cap if the board felt it was necessary.

“We are required, if we’re going to override it, to pass the law. We don’t know yet if we are or not,” said village Mayor William Hanauer. “The law is just a formality for the time being so that if we need it, it will be there.”

Hanauer said that with the budget needing to be passed by the first Board of Trustees meeting in December, there isn’t much time for tax cap override law to be passed.

The resolution, passed on Tuesday night, set up a public hearing for the override law on Dec. 6 at 7:30 p.m. The mayor and three trustees voted to pass the resolution while one trustee, Susanne Donnelly, was absent from the meeting.

On the same night as the public hearing, the mayor and trustees will vote on whether to pass the tax override law.

“My preference would be they stick with the tax cap, but they are their own government and have their level of authority,” State Assembly member Sandy Galef, a strong proponent of the state tax cap law, said during a phone interview. “I think having the tax cap makes people more conscious of the budget. One politician said, ‘We’re having to scrutinize every line item,’ and that’s exactly what it’s about – having them scrutinize every line item.”

Galef’s district office is located on Church Street in Ossining.

Hanauer said the tentative 2012 budget “reflects an attempt to abide by the poorly-thought out cap that the state has imposed on communities such as this.”

There will be an increase in taxes in 2012, Hanauer said, but details of how much of an increase will not be available until the board finishes going through the budget.

“The significant part of any municipal budget are the same – funding for police, fire, first responders and the safety of the community are the primary concern, so we have to make sure they’re funded for,” Hanauer said. “Beyond that, safety has many interpretations. In my book, keeping roads in good conditions and keeping infrastructure in as good a condition as it can be is important because whenever you need to fix something in an emergency, it costs more.”

Hanauer said the budget is still in its tentative outline stage and there is no way to know yet where it will end up.

“It’s not done until the fat lady sings,” the mayor said.

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