By now, you’ve probably heard about New York’s
new tax levy cap legislation enacted in June. Many have referred to
it as a “2 percent tax cap”, but this is a misnomer.
Whatever you call it, the new law will still
affect North Colonie and districts around the state as they develop
their budgets for 2012-13. Like many laws, the details can be
complicated and sometimes difficult to understand.
This is why we've put together 10 fast facts for
1. The “2 percent tax cap” does
not actually limit a tax levy increase to 2 percent. It does,
however, mean that any increase above a certain amount will require
60 percent of voters to approve the school budget.
2. That certain amount is called the “tax levy
limit” and will vary by school district.
3. The tax levy limit is determined by a complex,
eight-step formula that includes factors such as the growth in the
local tax base (if there is any), the previous year’s tax levy, and
the current and future years’ payments in lieu of taxes (payments
the Federal government and other entities make to local governments
instead of paying property taxes).
4. The rate of inflation or 2 percent (whichever is
lower) is just one part of the “tax levy limit” calculation.
5. After a school district calculates its “tax levy
limit,” it then adds exemptions into that amount. These exemptions
allow the district to propose a tax levy greater than the amount set
by the “limit” without requiring 60 percent of the voters to pass
6. These exemptions – or factors that “don’t count”
against the cap – include voter-approved local capital expenditures;
increases in the state-mandated employer contribution rates for
teacher and employee pensions that exceed two percentage points; and
court orders/judgments resulting in any amount that exceeds 5
percent of a district’s current levy.
7. Residents will vote on the school district
budget on Tuesday, May 15, 2012.
8. If North Colonie’s proposed budget meets or
stays below the “tax levy limit” (before exemptions), 50 percent of
voters (a simple majority) need to vote “yes” for the budget to be
9. If North Colonie proposes a budget that includes
a tax levy above its “tax levy limit,” you will see a statement on
the ballot required by law. You will also see the statement on the
school district website. Sixty percent of voters would be needed to
approve this budget.
10. The new law applies to the tax levy, not to tax
rates or individual tax bills. What will happen to your tax bill –
how much it may go up or down – cannot be predicted until a number
of other factors are determined later in the year.