MAHOPAC, N.Y. - Property owners in the town of Carmel will be getting a tax rebate check in the mail this fall thanks to town officials who have put together a fiscal efficiency plan that has been approved by the state.
The “tax freeze government-efficiency plan” was submitted to the New York State Division of Budget earlier this summer and town comptroller Mary Ann Maxwell told the Town Board at its Oct. 21 meeting that it has officially been accepted.
“We worked hard to get the plan in place by the June 1 deadline,” Maxwell said.
The plan spells out how the town intends to be fiscally efficient and save money for the years of 2017, 2018 and 2019
Maxwell said as a result of the state’s approval of the plan, taxpayers will get a tax credit later this fall because the current preliminary budget comes in under the state-imposed tax cap.
“We intend on staying within the tax cap so there will be another [tax credit] check in 2016,” she said.
How much the checks will be for depends on several variables, Maxwell explained. She said there is a formula that involves multiplying any tax increase by a cost-of-living factor. The check amount will also be impacted by any special district the property owner lives in, such as sewer and water districts. The checks, she said, will only be for town of Carmel taxpayers. Other rebates could be forthcoming from the Mahopac and Carmel school districts and the county if those entities filed their own tax efficiency plan with the Division of Budget.
Supervisor Ken Schmitt said the state’s acceptance of Carmel’s plan was “great news.”
“We will be getting checks from Albany,” he said. “It’s usually the other way around.”
Schmitt said the Town Board worked closely with Maxwell and her staff to develop the plan.
“We had to demonstrate to the state where we are fiscally responsible and how we would go about achieving the savings we laid out,” he said. “We worked very hard and put a lot of work into achieving this and we are thankful we got the results we were looking for.”
Schmitt said the state wanted to know specifically how the town would go about saving money and staying under the tax cap
“We had to be realistic about it; we couldn’t just put a set of numbers together. It had to be something we could really achieve,” he said.”We talked about sharing services and consolidation of services and things like that—[ideas] where there would be real savings. For example, we looked at partnering with the school district and the county on things like highway equipment.”
Schmitt said the issue of countywide police consolidation was not part of the plan because that issue is still being studied and nowhere near being implemented.
The Town Board also continues to move forward with its 2015 budget process. It approved moving the budget from tentative status to preliminary status without any major changes. It still calls for a 2.6 percent increase in the tax rate, which means the average homeowner, assessed at $204,940, would pay approximately $1,691, a $43 increase from last year. A public hearing on the preliminary budget has been slated for Nov. 4.
Schmitt said the tentative budget will continue to be deliberated by the Town Board.
“Not a lot of changes were made to the tentative budget and historically that seems to be the way it goes,” Schmitt said. “But there will be changes, though I can’t speak to them because it could involve personnel.”
Schmitt said it was important that people come to the public hearing and provide feedback on the budget to help the Town Board make any final adjustments.
“Public input is important; it’s their money and their input is very valuable and we encourage them to come out,” the supervisor said. “We want to hear from them. It seems like it’s always the same people [who come to the public hearings] and I understand their lives are busy and they work during the day, but it’s important that they participate.”
The final draft of the budget must be sent to Albany by Nov. 20.