Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Putting the brakes on school spending in New York State

My friend Catherine alerted me to this:
5 Troubling Property Tax Facts
  1. Property tax levies in New York grew by 73 percent from 1998 to 2008—more than twice the rate of inflation during that period.
  2. New York has the second highest combined state and local taxes in the nation and the highest local taxes in America as a percentage of personal income —79 percent above the national average.
  3. The median property taxes paid by New Yorkers are 96 percent above the national median.
  4. When measured in absolute dollars paid, Westchester (1st), Nassau (2nd) and Rockland (5th) counties are among the 5 highest taxed counties in the nation.
  5. When property taxes are measured as a percentage of home value over a three year period, the top sixteen counties in the nation are all in Upstate New York.

New York State school districts and municipalities are facing unrealistically large property tax increases this coming year, caused partly by "skyrocketing" pension costs.  The town portion of my property taxes will increase by over 16% this year.  It is simply unsustainable, and Governor Cuomo has proposed a property tax cap of 2% or the rate of inflation, whichever is less.  If this cap is enacted, schools will be forced to make painful spending cuts.  But they have countered that any tax cap must be coupled with mandate relief.
The group is offering a host of recommendations to lower the mandates on schools. Among them is a one-year freeze on the salaries of school and public employees. They also want public employees to contribute at least 10 percent toward the cost of health insurance and establish a new 401k-type pension tier.
Mandate relief is needed.  Something’s gotta give.

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