B y Derek Liebig

The Town of Hampton will join Washington County on a regional government efficiency plan. David O'Brien

Supervisor Dave O’Brien said the town approved a resolution last week that includes Hampton on the county’s plan.

County Administrator Kevin Hayes has been visiting local towns and asking them to consider piggybacking on the county’s plan.

Hayes said the plan would enable the town to comply with a state law that requires local governments develop a strategy to save 1 percent of their 2014 tax levy for three years.

The law allows municipalities to work collaboratively on identifying possible savings.

The government efficiency plan was established in the 2014 state budget and is an extension of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s property tax freeze.

In the first year of the ”freeze,” taxpayers receive a check equal to the increase in their local property tax bill so long as their local government or school complied with the 2 percent tax cap.

To benefit from the “tax freeze” for a second year, local governments and schools have to detail cost-cutting measures that would reduce the tax levy by at least 1 percent for each of the following three years (2016, ’17 and ’18).

Municipalities do not have to actually reduce the levy, just show a plan to do so.

The advantage of piggybacking on the county’s plan is towns that are unable to show a 1 percent savings can take advantage of the county’s cost-cutting measures it has taken in recent years.

That’s particularly advantageous in communities like Hampton, where officials maintain they’ve reduced expenditures so much over the past several years that it’s getting difficult to find areas to make additional cuts.

In order to comply with the “freeze,” Hampton would have to show a way to save about $2,712. By joining the county’s plan, they conceivably won’t have to demonstrate a way to show any savings because the county has already exceeded the 1 percent requirement.

After factoring in the tax levies of the county and all 17 towns and nine villages, Hayes said the municipalities would need to show a collective savings of $561,717.

He said based on cost cutting measures already taken, the county alone exceeds the 1 percent requirement and that along with savings achieved by other municipalities the requirement will be easily met.

A finalized efficiency plan is required to be filed with the state by June 1 in order for taxpayers to be eligible for tax rebate checks in 2016.

The Town of Granville is expected to decide next month whether to be included on the county’s plan.

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