Cuomo: Tax Cap Is Working

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As school grapple with a property-tax cap for the first time, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the cap is working and making local governments and schools more accountable.

Cuomo told reporters yesterday that the cap isn’t binding. If districts want to exceed it they can — with 60 percent of the vote of the public. School budget votes are Tuesday, May 15.

“They can spend whatever they want to spend, but have the debate, have the dialogue, have the discussion, have the vote, make it a meaningful vote,” Cuomo said.

The tax cap limits the growth in the property-tax levy to 2 percent a year. But with exemptions to the cap — such as the growth in pension costs — the cap this year will be about 3 percent, according to a report last week from the Empire Center for New York State Policy.

How many schools will seek to exceed the cap is still not known. The state Education Department is expected to put out the property-tax report cards any day.

The state Association of School Business Officials put out a news release yesterday saying that according to preliminary data it received, most districts plan to propose budgets under their capped amount.

The group said that the average proposed increase in the property tax levy is 2.37 percent.

“These preliminary findings show that school districts are complying with the intent of the tax cap law, while still trying to be in compliance with state laws and regulations in providing a sound basic education,” said Michael Borges, the group’s executive director, in a statement.

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