New York State School Boards Association

Take Action: School District Tax Cap Update

March 4, 2016

School District Tax Cap Update

Earlier this week, more than 600 school districts - approximately 90% of those that will be reporting - submitted their tax cap calculations to the Office of the State Comptroller. Unfortunately, the results were not surprising. Districts are facing the lowest average tax cap in its five year history at just 1.11%, based on the districts that submitted their calculations to date.

Even more alarming, scores of districts are reporting a negative tax cap for 2016-17. Based on the latest information available, a record 76 districts (or more than 12% of all districts statewide) find themselves in the difficult situation of a negative tax cap for the upcoming school year.

School districts are dependent on a combination of state and local resources to support their students and programs. NYSSBA estimates that $1.7 billion is needed in the 2016-17 school year for districts simply to maintain current programs. Given the record low tax cap, very few of those dollars can be raised at the local level without supermajority approval. Compounding this issue, if voters approve a budget that exceeds their tax cap, regardless of the level, taxpayers eligible for the STAR program will not receive a state rebate of up to $185 this fall.

Take Action Now.

Send the above letter to your state representatives telling them you support the following changes to the school district tax cap:

  • Make the allowable growth factor a consistent 2 percent (A.9026, Schimel)
  • Count BOCES capital costs in the capital exclusion in the same way that district  capital costs are excluded, as intended by the legislature and the governor when Chapter 20 of the laws of 2015 was enacted (S.6640, Murphy / A.9183, Galef)
  • Include properties covered by payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) agreements in the tax base growth factor, as intended by the legislature and the governor when Chapter 20 of the laws of 2015 was enacted (S.1151-A, O’Mara / A.3611-A, Morelle)
  • Prohibit negative tax caps
  • Account for enrollment growth in the tax cap calculation
  • Redesign the budget ballot so that any proposal beyond the capped levy amount is advanced as a separate proposition requiring simple majority approval 

For additional information on these proposals please visit our Key Issues site.

Key Issues: Local Management and Budget

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