The Examiner

Mt. Pleasant Approves Cap Override; 3.8% Tax Hike Planned

We are part of The Trust Project
The Mount Pleasant Town Board was forced to approve legislation allowing it to override the tax cap.

The Mount Pleasant Town Board voted unanimously this week to approve legislation to exceed  the state-mandated 2 percent property tax cap, despite a 2013 budget that currently includes three layoffs and three other fulltime positions reduced to part-time jobs.

The $14.5 million budget would include a tax levy increase of 5.7 percent and a tax rate hike of 3.8 percent. As currently proposed, taxes would rise $40 next year for the average homeowner.

A final budget is expected to be adopted at the board’s Dec. 11 meeting.

Following the unanimous Nov. 27 override vote, Supervisor Joan Maybury said the preliminary budget calls for the layoff of one highway department employee, one in the water and sewer department and another in parks and recreation. In addition, Maybury is seeking to slash the hours of three other full-time positions in half.

Staying within the cap next year was “quite impossible” despite cost containment efforts such as the reduction of the work force, Maybury said.

Among the pressures facing the town are lower tax revenues and the rising cost of employee pensions and health insurance. Health insurance premiums have increased by about $5,000 per employee–to $18,000–since 2006, Maybury said. The town had originally expected a 5 percent spike in those costs but will see it jump by 8 percent next year.

The state recently informed municipalities that starting next year it would no longer reimburse the cost of Medicare Part D payments for retired municipal employees, Maybury said. Losing the reimbursement will cost Mount Pleasant about $25,000 in 2013, she said.

Diminishing tax revenues has also taken its toll. Mount Pleasant received $3 million in mortgage tax revenues in 2005, $2 million more than officials had budgeted for this year. However, the final 2012 mortgage tax figure will likely fall short of the $1 million projection, Maybury noted at a previous meeting. Meanwhile, sales tax revenue has been flat.

Before any possibile layoffs for next year takes place, officials have already trimmed the workforce in recent years. Six years ago, the town had 153 employees. In 2012, that number is 138.

No residents attented Tuesday night’s public hearing on whether to exceed the tax cap. The hearing was closed by the town board.

Council members agreed with the supervisor that a tax levy increase within the cap could not be achieved.

“We have done everything we can,” said Councilman Mark Rubeo.

Councilman Carl Fulgenzi added that significant spending cuts could not be realized without eliminating vital services.

About 70 percent of property taxes collected in Mount Pleasant go to the school district, with the remaining portion roughly split between the town and the county.

The town board is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the final draft of the budget on Dec. 11 and is expected to adopt the spending plan the same night.




We'd love for you to support our work by joining as a free, partial access subscriber, or by registering as a full access member. Members get full access to all of our content, and receive a variety of bonus perks like free show tickets. Learn more here.