On Monday, the supervisors voted 18-1 to override a state-imposed 2 percent cap on property tax increases. Supporters of the move said they wanted to protect themselves because there's no indication that New York state would be providing relief for unfunded mandates -- a major expense, to be sure -- this year.
We understand the difficulties municipalities have with staying within the cap because the state fails year after year to provide mandate relief. The state allows municipal boards to override the cap if needed.
Taking that route should be a last resort, however, and not the first move made before Fulton County supervisors even begin taking a look at next year's budget.
We commend Broadalbin town Supervisor Joe DiGiacomo for casting the lone "no" vote on overriding the cap. We agree with his sentiments that the legislation is not necessary, and that the board has a duty to keep costs down for taxpayers in Fulton County.
The supervisors should direct their efforts to cutting costs and exploring other ways to save money, such as consolidation and shared services with other municipalities in the county.
The board of supervisors made the right decision last year when it sold its county infirmary -- which turned out to be a major savings for Montgomery County when it sold its facility several years ago. Legislators should continue looking at ways to shed themselves of unnecessary costs.
If all that is done, and the county still finds itself unable to stay under the 2 percent tax cap, that's the time to consider overriding it -- and the end of the process, not the beginning.
Passing this kind of legislation now sends a message that supervisors are unwilling to do the work needed to keep the budget down. It appears that Fulton County lawmakers are surrendering before the battle even begins.
It's a major slap in the face to the taxpayers of that county who are already overburdened with property taxes. The Fulton County Board of Supervisors should repeal Monday's resolution and focus on doing the job they were elected to do.