DiNAPOLI: TAX CAP BELOW TWO PERCENT

Low Inflation Rate Impacts Counties, Towns and Cities

Property tax levy growth for local governments with fiscal years closing Dec. 31 will be capped at 1.56 percent for 2021, according to State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. This figure affects tax cap calculations for all counties, towns, fire districts, 44 cities and 11 villages.

“The pandemic and the fiscal uncertainties municipalities are facing add to the challenge of adhering to the tax cap,” DiNapoli said. “At the same time the levy growth rate is dropping, both revenues and spending could deviate significantly from what was planned. Local governments must closely monitor their budgets to ensure they are balanced and that they have cash on hand.”

The tax cap, which first applied to local governments and school districts in 2012, limits annual tax levy increases to the lesser of the rate of inflation or 2 percent with certain exceptions, including a provision that allows municipalities to override it. The cap is just one of many fiscal pressures facing local governments during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 1.56 percent allowable levy growth factor for the 2021 fiscal year is the first time municipalities with a fiscal year ending on Dec. 31 had their levy growth capped at less than 2 percent in three years. Levy growth was capped at 2 percent for these municipalities due to inflation above 2 percent in recent years.