Cicero (WSYR-TV) -- The Cicero Town Board adopted a budget that includes a 14.5 percent tax increase Wednesday night, a move that’s bound to baffle and certainly anger people in the town of Cicero
The board was able to put together a budget, with a tax rate increase of just 2.75 percent, but when it came time to vote, three members shot it down – an effort that seemed to be led by Supervisor-elect Jim Corl. Board members Jessica Zambrano and Vernon Conway also voted no.
And the kicker: by voting no, the town, by law, is forced to default to the original proposal put forth by the supervisor, which includes the 14.5 percent tax increase.
Current Supervisor Judy Boyke said, "How the heck can you go ahead and do something like that? I can't believe it. I'm flabbergasted."
Ironically, Corl says he voted the budget down because he doesn't support a tax increase.
"Whether it's a two percent, a three percent, or five percent, it's still a tax increase and that's what I'm most concerned with and we can't afford tax increases and I think with proper planning we could have gotten to zero percent," said Corl.
Why not just vote yes and take the lesser of two evils? NewsChannel 9 asked Corl multiple times to explain his logic and got the same answer each time: “The direct message is we're not in favor of this budget because it does call for an increase."
Corl said the board should have started the process earlier; been more creative; come up with better solutions; and the burden falls on them.
Supervisor Boyke warned the board before the vote that if it failed, they would face a steeper tax hike.
Former supervisor Joan Kesel said she's appalled and says the burden only falls on the taxpayer.
"I'm ashamed of them. I'm ashamed of every one of them that voted against the budget," Kesel said.
Property owners will pay about $44 more per $100,000 assessed value in 2012.
In 2012, the town will be working under the revised budget, which included that 2.75 percent tax rate increase.
As you know, New York imposed a two percent tax cap this year, which means everything the town collects over that two percent, will then be frozen by the state and can’t be touched by the town for another year. Sort of like a savings account, without any interest.
As for the budget itself, only $38,000 was cut from the police department after a plan to trim half a million dollars was met with opposition.
To help balance things out, about $400,000 was cut from the highway department that would have been used for road repairs and paving.