Advertisement. Advertise with us

County Board

Moves Toward

Lifting Tax Cap

Action Possible At Sept. 2 Meeting

County Board Chairman David Bliss, R-Cooperstown/Town of Middlefield, proposes lifting the state’s 2 percent tax cap during deliberations on the 2021 county budget. At right is county board Vice Chair Meg Kennedy, C-Hartwick, Middlefield, New Lisbon.

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

Freshman Rep. Clark Oliver, D-Oneonta, seconded Bliss’ motion, which must now go to public hearing.

COOPERSTOWN – Facing a fiscal crunch, the county Board of Representatives today took the first step toward freeing itself from the state’s 2 percent property-tax cap in preparing its 2021 budget.

At its August meeting, county board Chairman David Bliss, R-Cooperstown/Town of Middlefield, “put the law on the table,” and freshman representative Clark Oliver, D-Oneonta, seconded it.

As County Attorney Ellen Coccoma explained it, a public hearing must now be set before the county board’s next meeting, on Sept. 2, to enable the legislators to act at that point if they wish to.

If the county didn’t remove the tax cap and then goes over the 2 percent limit, it would face “severe penalties,” the lawyer said.

Responding to a question from county Rep. Michele Farwell, D-Morris, Coccoma said she’s unsure how a public hearing can be set up to receive public comments, but she’ll research it.  This is the first law the county board has tried to pass since the state of emergency began.

No vote was necessary today, although county Rep. Dan Wilber, R-Burlington, signaled his position: “I would just go on record that it’s unlikely I would support it.”

Much of today’s meeting dealt with the shortfalls county government is facing due to the COVID-19 shutdown, which has resulted in shriveling bed- and sales-tax revenues.  Also, the state has been withholding reimbursements it owes the county for money already spent.

In his report, County Treasurer Allen Ruffles reports sales tax revenues are down $7 million; bed tax, $1.2 million, and state reimbursements, $4 million.

“That’s about $12 million for this year,” Ruffles said, about the amount raised by the county tax levy.  He added, “We have reserves, but those reserves are going away.”

How the county fares financially over the next few months depends on Congress’ aid package now being negotiated between the Democratic House and the Republican House.  For now, the package is stymied.

Depending what happens, Oliver said, “If we don’t raise property taxes, we’ll just have to think about cutting crucial services.”  Lifting the tax cap would give the county board more flexibility.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Related Articles

Board Expands Emergency Housing

The Otsego County Board of Representatives authorized the Department of Social Services to contract for 10 additional rooms for emergency housing at Motel 88 in Oneonta at its meeting on Wednesday, August 2. The $621,000.00, 18-month contract doubles the number of rooms at Motel 88 and brings DSS to a total of more than 60 rented rooms at local hotels. The county DSS is required by New York State to provide emergency housing to eligible families.…

Van Lenten Becker: Clark Oliver Appreciated

Kudos and thanks to Otsego County District 11 Representative Clark Oliver for his thoughtful words about DSS clients in need of housing. Clark is mature beyond his years, and has a heart of gold. His voice will be missed.…

County Cancels Auction Following May 25th Supreme Court Ruling

The Otsego County property tax foreclosure auction scheduled for August 16 has been cancelled and the entire in rem foreclosure procedure has been suspended as a result of the uncertainty created by a recent decision from the Supreme Court of the United States regarding the handling of surplus monies derived from the sale of properties at tax foreclosure auctions.…

Putting the Community Back Into the Newspaper

Special Subscription Offer

Now through September 30, new annual subscribers to “The Freeman’s Journal” and have an opportunity to help their choice of one of four Otsego County Charitable organizations.

$5.00 of your subscription will be donated to the nonprofit of your choice:

Community Arts Network of Oneonta, Cooperstown Art Association, Helios Care or Susquehanna Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.