The Essex County Board of Supervisors.
Turnout was low for the Essex County Board of Supervisors’ public hearing on Nov. 26, introducing a local law that, if enacted, would override the state's 2 percent property tax levy cap.
Harold Akey of Jay was the only county resident speaking at the hearing, asking the members of the board re-consider the option to override.
"The taxes in some of our local municipalities are already crushing as it is," Akey said. "I feel that increasing the budget like this over three years is going to run people out of the area. I am asking you guys to please reconsider. Take a look at the budget again and see if there are any cuts. The Board of Supervisors and the county cannot ask the taxpayers to continue to flip the bills."
County Attorney Daniel Manning said that the introduction does not mean the law was in place, but would if they later voted to enact the local law.
"You do not adopt the local law unless you have the intent to override it," Manning said. "We have already passed a resolution proposing this. Once you have the budget in place, if you feel you need to pass this, then you are saying that you are going to override the budget."
County Manager Daniel Palmer said that either way, he would counsel any municipality to at least introduce the local law whether it would eventually be needed or not.
"I would recommend that each of the municipalities override the law because you just do not know what is going to happen," Palmer said. "Introducing it does not mean you are going to override the cap."
Westport Supervisor Daniel Connell said he felt the introduction of the law was necessary, along with what he felt would be its eventual adoption.
"I don't think any of us are happy with this," Connell said. "But when we have a $17 million increase in mandates, we really have no choice. We have to pass this law in case we can't get it under the cap. Most of us can bring our town budgets in under the cap because we do not have all of the mandates that we are dealing with here at the county."