Chester votes to override 2 percent tax cap

Chester. Supervisor Robert Valentine said the town was over the tax cap by $90,143.

| 03 Dec 2020 | 04:12

Supervisor Robert Valentine announced at the regular Chester Town Board meeting on Nov. 11 that the town would slip under the 2 percent tax cap.

Then just days later, the town board voted to override the tax cap.

Under the state’s Property Tax Cap law, enacted in 2011, the property taxes levied by local governments and school districts generally cannot increase by more than 2 percent, or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower. However, the law does allow local governments and school districts to levy an additional amount for certain excludable expenditures.

An override of the levy limit is also permitted, according to the summary of the law found on web site for State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapopli (

In the Town of Chester, Valentine wears two hats: one as town supervisor and the other as budget director, for which he receives an additional $15,000, and one as town supervisor.

According to a source, Councilmen Tom Becker and Robert Courtenay stressed repeatedly in conversations with Valentine that they thought the town should go under the tax cap.

Valentine said the difference between the tax levy and the proposed levy was $90,143.

He said the town was over the tax cap by $90,143.

Becker was the only board official present to ask about fixing the budget so the town would go under the tax cap; he asked about it twice.

At the meeting on Nov. 19, the board members talked about taking out certain individual items such as a part time police officer soon to be posted and hired and various highway department items, always saying any one item they would remove from the budget wouldn’t be enough to keep the town from going over the tax cap.

They did not discuss removing more than any one item. Any one item they discussed removing would not amount to the total needed to fall under the tax cap, they said.

They did not discuss targeting multiple items totaling the amount needed to fall under the tax cap.

After discussing the individual possibilities to amend the budget to go under the tax cap, the town board voted to override the tax cap.

Voting were Valentine, Deputy Supervisor Cindy Smith and Becker.

Courtenay was absent on the 19th. Orlando Perez resigned weeks ago and hasn’t been replaced.

Just before the special meeting on the 19th came to an end, Smith said Valentine didn’t mean to make the mistake.

The Chronicle asked Valentine in an email what the consequences would be for the town for overriding the tax cap. He didn’t offer a response by press time.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct the tax cap exceedance number in the subhead.