Tax burden shifts

A shift in town residential assessments has caught North Colonie officials off guard.

As a result, residential properties are to bear the lion's share of school taxes this year. However, increased state aid, other revenues and the district's fund balance will be utilized to keep the increases in check.

Between a rock and a hard place, the board of education unanimously passed the 2006-2007 tax rate at 7.78 percent for residential properties and 1.72 percent for commercial.

The tax shift to residential properties over commercial is the first in 10 years, said school officials. The shift accounted for a tax increase of approximately $66 per home assessed at $200,000 over May's approved budget.

What really affected us is a very large shift in base proportions to residential properties. It could have been worse, but there is a (state) cap at three percent, said Steve Zautner, district treasurer.

Base proportions are rates set by the state that are used by school districts to estimate the percentage of the tax levy to be paid by residential and commercial properties. In the last 10 years, properties in the North Colonie district have hovered at an average .5 percent base proportion. When putting together this year's budget, school official anticipated no base proportion change.

However, this year that figure peaked at three percent and could have gone higher if not capped. On Aug. 16, the town assessment office issued its annual assessed value of the town.

Assessed residential properties in the North Colonie district jumped by more than $32 million, a result of new construction and additions. The last town wide reassessment was completed in 2001. The next is scheduled for completion in 2008.

School district officials estimated a 1.5 percent jump in assessments when they put together this year's budget. On average, the town assessment has steadily increased by 2 percent over the last 10 years.

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