NYSSBA Predicts More Tax Cap Overrides in 2016
Poll suggests zero percent tax cap may increase override attempts
FOR RELEASE: November 16, 2015
Nearly four in 10 school board members (38 percent) would consider asking voters to exceed their property tax cap in 2016 if their districts' cap were essentially zero percent, according to a poll by the New York State School Boards Association (NYSSBA).
Such a move would require 60 percent voter approval.
"With no growth allowed in their tax levies, we expect more school boards to attempt a tax cap override in order to meet their rising expenses," said Timothy G. Kremer, NYSSBA's executive director. "We'll know more in 2016 when school boards begin the budgeting process in earnest and share various budgeting scenarios with their communities."
Since the tax cap went into effect in 2012, an average of about 30 districts have sought tax cap overrides each year – around 4.4 percent of all districts. Last year, the number of districts seeking overrides was 18 – about 2.7 percent of all districts.
The potential of a zero percent tax cap exists because of the low inflation rate. Under the state's tax cap law, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) is the biggest factor in determining the amount of property taxes that a school district may raise every year without requiring 60 percent voter approval. The CPI indicates that through the first nine months of 2015, the inflation rate was essentially zero. The actual tax cap will vary among districts because districts may take certain exemptions based on their individual circumstances.
Two-thirds of board members expect a zero percent tax cap
Because of the potentially low inflation rate, two-thirds of school board members (68 percent) in the poll expect their district will have a tax cap at or near zero percent. Only 12 percent of board members did not anticipate their district having a zero percent tax cap, while nearly 20 percent were not sure.
The poll also asked board members whether they support or oppose changing the tax cap to a straight 2 percent, rather than the lesser of 2 percent or inflation. Two-thirds of respondents (66 percent) supported that proposal, while 15 percent opposed it and 19 percent were not sure.
NYSSBA, in conjunction with other education groups, is calling for lawmakers to make the allowable levy growth factor a consistent 2 percent, regardless of inflation. "When the Legislature convenes in January, we will be advocating for common sense funding initiatives for school districts," Kremer noted.
Survey results are based on an informal poll of school board members in early November. A total of between 603 and 607 responses were received, depending on the question.