Posted November 15, 2011
Dealing with an issue as complex as the property
tax cap, or more accurately stated, tax levy limit, North Colonie
aimed to reach as many people as possible last night to explain the
recently passed legislation and its implications.
For the first time this year, the district is
webcasting the forums, giving community members the opportunity to
participate from home through an interactive video and e-mail
Superintendent D. Joseph Corr opened the forum
with a brief overview of the current budget outlook before delving
into the tax levy limit discussion. While many factors, including
state aid figures, have yet to be determined, Corr provided
community members with the district’s current projections heading
into the 2012-13 budget season.
At this stage, the district is projecting to use
$1.3 million of its fund balance to help offset the cost to tax
payers and reduce the amount of program cuts, but as Corr says, that
projection can change.
“There is so much that is yet to be determined,”
Corr said. “We will get a better sense of where we are from a
financial standpoint in January when the Governor releases his
budget and we get our state aid figures.”
Tax Levy Limit
Corr directed the community through a tour of
the tax levy limit and expressed that while the new law has been
referred to as a “2 percent tax cap”, it does not in fact restrict
any proposed tax levy increase to 2 percent. The law does, however,
require at least 60 percent voter approval for a school budget if
the proposed levy increase exceeds a certain amount.
That amount, called the “tax levy limit,” will
be determined by the district according to a complex formula
outlined in the law.
“To present a budget with only a 2-percent
increase in taxes would mean we would have to wipe out programs that
many of our students rely upon for preparation for their futures,”
The Board can instead propose a budget requiring
a tax levy before exemptions at or below the Tax Levy Limit
prescribed by law, which would require a simple majority (50% + 1
“While we have had strong support from our
community for our budgets in the past, if we do not reach that 60
percent approval figure, we will be setting ourselves back as a
district, in essence wiping out a year,” Corr said.
He is referring to a contingent budget which is
still in effect under this new law. The difference is the penalty a
district faces should they adopt a contingent budget.
Under the new law, a district that adopts a
contingent budget may not increase its current tax levy by any
amount—which would impose, in effect, a zero percent cap.
“It’s important that our community understands
this new law and how it will affect all those involved,” Corr said.
“It’s not as simple as it sounds and the only way we can help to
clarify the gray areas is to continue to be out in front of the
Community members raised the question of how the
district can inform those who do not regularly attend budget
meetings or pay attention to these matters.
“We’re going to continue to provide you with
accurate information both on our website, through SNN and through
mailings,” Corr said. “I urge you to encourage your neighbors in the
community to attend future budget meetings and become more involved
in these proceedings. Help us spread the word.”
The district will be holding another budget
forum in January.