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Millwood: Firehouse Brings Tax Seesaw, Cap Override

Tax levy to rise roughly 34.95 percent from 2012, after dropping about 22.72 percent year before; board overrides cap.

A year after Millwood Fire District taxpayers saw a massive tax cut due to the Board of Fire Commisioners' decision to postpone going out to bond for the new firehouse, taxes will see a large hike this year in order to pay for it.

Under the proposed 2013 budget, the tax levy would rise by roughly 34.95 percent, or from $1,135,724 in 2012 to $1,532,660 for the coming year. However, the 2012 levy about due to a large tax levy drop of about 22.72. The 2011 levy was $1,469,744.

Because of this, the board voted to override the state's 2-percent tax levy cap, according to Commissioner Alan Schapiro. Under state law, all elected boards (except for school boards) can overide the cap if 60 percent or more of the governing body votes to do so.

The tax rate, which is the measure for how much people pay per $1,000 of assessed property value, will also see a large increase, from $3.536 per $1,000 in 2012 to $4.761 per $1,000 for 2013. However, the rate experienced a sharp drop (roughly 22 percent) the year before; the 2011 rate was $4.534 per $1,000.

The district expects to secure a $9.95 million, 25-year bond next March and start construction in the spring. Voters approved going out to bond in an April 2011 referendum, which came two months before Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a New Castle Democrat, signed the tax cap into law. The large tax cut for 2012 came because the board opted to delay bonding. In a letter to the community explaining the budget, it was explained that 2012 funding for the firehouse was reduced more than $300,000 because of project delays.

The proposed budget is $1,561,660 in total, with a $645,000 bond payment. That number, the district explained, is more than $90,000 less than a projection given before the vote.

The 2012 budget, by contrast, was $1,164,600, an amount that was a 1-year abberration. According to figures provided by the district, the proposed budget is lower than the 2009 amount, which was $1,625,544. The 2011 level was 1,477,824.

The district notes that, in looking from 2011 to 2013 as one time period, taxes are rising by a much more modest amount. For example, the tax rate is seeing a net increase of roughly 5 percent from two years ago.

The budget planning comes a month after the district got New Castle Planning Board approval for the firehouse, which will be about 18,000 square feet and have five bays. The site is located off of Millwood Road, several hundred feet of the current Station 1, which will be replaced.

The board will hold a public hearing for the budget on Oct. 16 at 8 p.m., at Station 2. 

A copy of the proposed budget is attached as a PDF file.

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