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Community members turn out in-person and online for Tax “Cap” presentation

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Posted November 15, 2011

 

Forum Materials

November 14 Tax "Cap" and Budget Information Session Presentation [PDF]

 

Video of the Interactive Webcast

 

Understanding New York's Property Tax Levy Cap As It Relates to Public Schools [PDF]

 

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 interface.

 

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,” Corr said.

 

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 voter approval).

 

“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 issue.”

 

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.

 

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