Twenty-seven* school districts were seeking to override the state’s property tax cap in yesterday’s school budget votes. Twenty of these districts — or 74 percent — failed to collect the needed 60 percent supermajority to pass, according to news accounts. The closest result was in the Cornwall School District in Orange County, which fell two votes short of an override supermajority.
Opponents of Governor Cuomo’s 2 percent property tax cap were able to stick one major exclusion into the legislation before it passed in 2011: a provision excluding a portion of local government and school employee pensions from the total allowable “levy limit” in years when taxpayer-funded employer contributions rise by more than two percentage points of salaries.
That loophole will push the average “levy limit” in this year’s upcoming school votes to 4.6 percent statewide, more than double the base cap and the inflation rate, according to a report issued by the Empire Center today. And, ironically, the pension exclusion will make it easiest for the poorest districts to avoid a “supermajority” requirement for passing their budgets.
If not for the pension exclusion, the levy school tax limit statewide this year would average 2.7 percent, including allowances for factors such as physical additions to the tax base (new construction, not assessment manipulations) and partial “carry-forwards” of unused cap space from last year.
To no one’s surprise, the statewide teachers’ union today filed suit to overturn New York’s local property tax cap. NYSUT has enlisted some parents of school children as co-plaintiffs, but the chief motive here is obvious: the tax cap is likely to limit future increases in teacher compensation, which is by far the largest category of local school expenditures. (more…)
Just two school districts — out of nearly 700 in New York — will be limited to the new zero-tax hike contingency budget provision of the state’s new property tax cap law next year.
After failing to have either of two budget proposals approved by the electorate, the 1,500-pupil Cheektowaga-Sloan and the 355-pupil Oppenheim-Ephratah school districts will implement budgets for the 2013-14 school year using the current year’s tax levy, which equals no tax hike.
Nineteen school districts that attempted to override the tax cap in last month’s school budget votes will present revised budgets to voters tomorrow. Nine of those districts are resubmitting budgets below the cap, seven have budgets at the cap and three districts will try again to override the cap. (more…)
Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg (D-Long Beach) has just introduced a bill (A.10676) that would exclude court-ordered tax certiorari refund payments from Nassau County school district tax levy limits under the state’s property tax cap. It’s the same measure introduced in the Senate a month ago by Sen. Jack Martins (R-Mineola).
If the bill is enacted, the added, uncapped school tax increases in Nassau County could come to at least $50 million a year, based on 2009-10 refund data cited by the Nassau-Suffolk School Boards Association in a memo to lawmakers urging passage of the bill. **See Update at bottom of post.**
Forty-nine school districts* were seeking to override the state’s new property tax cap in yesterday’s school budget votes. Of those, our review of regional media coverage suggests 30 districts* passed an override, while 19 districts voted their budgets down. Seven of the proposed overrides failed to collect even 50 percent of the vote.
The table below shows each district along with unofficial vote tallies. (more…)
While New York State’s new property tax cap has a starting point of 2 percent (or the prior year’s average inflation rate, whichever is less), it will vary from school district to school district based on a series of exclusions for capital expenditures, increases in pension costs, and physical additions to the district tax base. Heading towards the first annual school budget votes to be affected by the tax cap, districts were required to submit their estimates of the adjusted “levy limit” to the comptroller’s office earlier this month. The results can be found in this spreadsheet.
Property tax burdens in New York’s counties, based on U.S. Census data crunched by the Tax Foundation, are presented in an online map widget unveiled yesterday as part of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s new “CitizenConnects” program.
But the Tax Foundation’s countywide data, which reflect the tax on a median-priced home, aren’t actually very useful in comparing property tax burdens in different communities. Taxes within counties can differ significantly from one town or city to the next, even within the same town. That’s mainly because school taxes dominate the tax levy, and school districts cross town lines. One town may be divided into portions of two or three — or even a half dozen or more — school districts. In addition to county, town and school taxes, property owners also may pay taxes to one or more special districts that exist to fund libraries, fire protection and other special purposes. Each is subject to Cuomo’s new cap on property tax levies.
It’s no surprise that some New York’s local governments are choosing to override the state’s new property tax cap. The real news is that the vast majority — so far — apparently are managing to live within it.
After all, Governor Andrew Cuomo did not combine his tax cap with any meaningful relief from state mandates. As a result, municipalities remain limited in their ability to reduce labor costs without disruptive layoffs. Making matters worse, the past several state budgets have stealthily shifted a larger share of mandated social services costs to the county level. County leaders also say the Cuomo administration is creating cash flow problems by slowing down reimbursements to counties for services partially dependent on state and federal funding.