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Hammond Votes To Override Tax Cap

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HAMMOND - Town officials voted 4-1 in favor of overriding a state legislated property tax cap following a public hearing Monday.
Town Supervisor Ronald W. Bertram and councilors James R. Tague, James C. Pitcher and Douglas E. Delosh voted in favor of the override. Councilor James E. Langtry voted against the measure.
"Everybody wants to cut taxes, but they are voting yes to raise them," Mr. Langtry said. "I've got my feeling that we can come up with a budget without going above the cap."
Mr. Bertram said that while the board may be able to stay within the state mandated cap, it would be prudent to pass the override before preparing the budget.
"With the time frame we have for this, we need to pass it now. We don't necessarily have to go above 2 percent, but this gives us the option."
Mr. Bertram said the tax cap was another example of the state's continued effort to remove the power of local government. He said the tax cap is not a realistic solution to the state's economic problems.
"A two percent increase on our budget would be around $1,700. That's not even enough to cover our increase in retirement costs."
The 2011 town budget had a tax levy of approximately $87,000.
Mr. Tague agreed the board would be in a better position to prepare the budget with the override in place.
"It will be nice to have the option when we prepare the budget, rather than waiting to have our hands tied behind our backs," he said.
Mr. Bertram said the state's effort to make towns fiscally responsible was actually costing the municipalities more money.
He said the town attorney was involved in preparing the resolution to override the cap at an expense to the town.
The board will hold its first budget session Monday at 7 p.m. at the town library.

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