Andes Tax hike at 5.9%

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By Geoff Samuels
The Town of Andes experienced declining revenue in 2012 resulting in a property tax hike of 6.95 percent in their 2013 budget.

In a phone interview with the News, Town Supervisor Martin Donnelly characterized the shortfalls as due to “un-received anticipated revenues” and was quick to point out that a recent headline in another local paper referring to his budget woes as being caused by “missing revenues” was, in his terms, “an erroneous statement.” Donnelly went on to speak about what he deemed were the real reasons for the shortfall.

A fewer number of properties being sold within in the town was partly to blame he said, accounting for a $10,000 decrease in mortgage tax income. Donnelly explained that the town would receive two checks a year from the state representing property mortgage taxes.

“If 30 properties are sold one year and 10 the next,” he said, “that’s less money than we anticipated.” Another reason that he gave for the town’s budget problems was that money coming in from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was in his words “sticky,” or slow to come in, causing a further shortfall in revenue.

On the other hand, increases in expenditures came from such items as a $5,000 increase in transfer station expenses, a $4,000 increase in insurance, and a $2,500 increase in town clerk expenses. These budget increases on top of the revenue shortfalls were the crux of the problem.
The 6.95 percent increase in taxes that Andes property owners will face is obviously in excess of the states’ mandated two percent tax cap. However, state law also provides that a town may pass a local law to override the cap if that action is warranted, and that’s exactly what the Andes town board was forced to do.

When asked whether the board had performed certain calculations (available from the State Comptroller) that can result in a slightly higher tax cap for an individual township Donnelly replied, “We didn’t do that.”