Goshen Schools to host tax cap presentation
September 9, 2011 – Confused about the new property tax cap? On September
19, the Goshen Central School District will host a tax cap presentation,
given by Steve Golas from Questar State Aid Planning.
The presentation will be held during a regularly
scheduled Board of Education meeting in the Goshen High School
Mr. Golas will discuss the basics of the tax cap and
how it affects public school districts. Learn more about this new law
and have your questions answered. This event is open to the public.
New York State adopts tax cap
Please note: This article is continually updated
to reflect the latest news and clarifications on the new property tax
After years of debate, the New York State Legislature has
passed a property tax cap. Under the new law, districts will be held to
a zero percent tax levy increase unless voters approve something higher.
The cap will take effect this coming budget season
and affect district planning for the 2012-13 school year.
The cap has been highly
publicized as "the lesser of 2 percent or the rate of inflation."
However, it is only one factor contributing to a district's tax levy
limit. In fact, there are eight different steps to the calculation of
the tax levy limit, as outlined in the legislation, plus certain costs
that are exempt from the limit. It is entirely possible for districts to
propose tax levy increases above 2 percent (or inflation) and still be
considered within their "cap."
District officials continue to analyze the tax cap
legislation to determine how Goshen will be affected. At this time, it
is unclear what the exact tax levy cap will be for Goshen given the
number of exemptions outlined in the legislation.
Tax Cap Law Basics – Here’s what we know
about the tax levy cap:
Tax levy increases will be capped at 2 percent or
the rate of inflation, whichever is less. For 2011-12, this would
have meant a 1.6 percent cap because that is the current rate of
A district may propose a budget that goes over
the cap, but that would require approval from more than 60 percent
of voters. A budget that falls within the cap would require approval
from more than 50 percent of voters.
If a proposed budget is defeated twice by voters,
districts would be held to the same tax levy as the previous year,
irrespective of increases in health care costs, contractual expenses
or student enrollment.
Every district will receive an additional
allowance between 1 and 2 percent for tax base growth. This would
bring the total allowable tax levy increase up to somewhere between
3.9 and 4.9 percent.
If a district’s tax levy increase is under the
cap, the difference can be carried over to the next year.
Districts can exempt the tax levy necessary to
fund pension increases that are in excess of a 2 percentage point
increase in the contribution rate. In other words, if the pension
increase is more than 2 percentage points, the additional percentage
point increase can be exempt.
Exemptions are also allowed for court judgments
and capital project costs.
There is not a five-year expiration date on the
cap, which had been previously discussed by state leaders. The cap
is tied to the expiration of rent control legislation for New York
Mandate relief and moving forward
The legislation signed into law on Friday also
included a number of measures aimed at alleviating state mandates and
helping school districts bring down costs. School leaders continue to
review the legislation to learn what it means for Goshen. These measures
Allowing school districts to plan bus routes not
by every potential bus rider, but rather by patterns of student
Allowing districts to “piggyback” on some state
Allowing districts to share services, materials
and equipment with other districts and municipalities.
Allowing for joint electricity purchasing among
Allowing districts with fewer than 1,000 students
to share a superintendent with up to two other districts (this does
not apply to Goshen, with more than 3,000 students).
Allowing districts to conduct a pre-k census
every two years, rather than every year.
auditing practices for districts with more than 10,000 students.
The creation of a Mandate Relief Council to hear
petitions from local governments and school districts for relief
from specific mandates.
Aside from the tax cap legislation, there are a
number of factors set to affect Goshen’s 2012-13 budget. These include:
A projected liability of more than $12 million in
Double-digit increases in the state-mandated
contributions to the Teachers’ Retirement System and Employees’
Contractual increases, such as salaries and
Skyrocketing energy costs.
Limited availability of fund balance after it has
been spent down in the recent years of declining state aid.
A modest increase – if any – in state aid. With a
$2.5 billion state budget deficit already being predicted, it is
uncertain that there will be any increase in state aid for the
2012-13 school year.
While district officials understand the level of tax
fatigue and frustration with ever-increasing tax bills, Superintendent
Daniel T. Connor said they also know that the best economic stimulus is
a solid education and high school diploma.
“Together, as a community, we will face the
challenges in front of us and work to maintain quality schools for our
children,” he said.