The State Comptroller’s got a list, and the town of Hannibal is at the very top of it.
The list, released Monday, shows the local governments which approved budgets that illegally exceeded the state’s new cap on tax levies.
Hannibal exceeded the cap by more than $154,000, the Comptroller’s office claims.
“It’s not a big deal,” said Hannibal Supervisor Ron Greenleaf.
Hannibal’s 2012 town budget actually cut the tax levy by more than 7%. However, Greenleaf said the town did not include the cost of a new water district in its budget, believing that it would be treated as a separate governmental entity with its own budget.
The Comptroller’s office said that the water district’s costs are part of the town budget. Adding the cost of the water district to the town’s budget produced the $154,000 excess.
“It’s very confusing the way the law is written,” said Greenleaf.
Greenleaf said that construction projects don’t count against the tax cap for school districts, and he thought that would also be true for the town and its water district construction.
He said it’s not a big deal because the money being brought in above the cap will be set aside to pay for the water district. “We’re putting it in reserve. That’s where it was going anyway,” he said.
The town could have avoided the entire problem by approving a measure waiving the tax cap. Many local governments did that, including the county and the city of Fulton, saying that the rules for the new tax cap are still being made up by the state and they didn’t want taxpayers to be penalized for any mistakes or changes.
Both the county and city delivered budgets well below the cap limit. Groups representing local governments urged them to pass tax cap waivers to protect themselves from last-minute rule changes.
“Next year, we will,” Greenleaf said.