The St. Lawrence County Board of Legislators is holding a public hearing today on a proposal to override the state’s new property tax cap as part of the county’s budget. Although the tentative 2012 county budget is not due until Nov. 15, local news reports suggest county officials are getting an early start on the cap-busting process because they are convinced they will need a tax increase well above the levy limit.

For all localities outside New York City, the property tax levy cap is 2 percent, plus allowances for the value of physical additions to the property tax base in the past year and a partial exclusion for taxes necessary to pay rising pension costs. The cap can be overridden pursuant to a separate local law requiring support from at least 60 percent of the county legislators.

Our handy “BenchmarkingNY” tool at shows that St. Lawrence County, which sprawls across part of the northernmost corner of New York, already is among the highest-taxed counties in the state. According to its latest financial disclosure documents, the county tax levy has risen 22 percent in the past two years, after a long period of stability. Moreover, the county is borrowing money to keep up with its bills this year.

About the Author

E.J. McMahon

Edmund J. McMahon is Empire Center's founder and a senior fellow.

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