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Owners get a tax break

The end of summer doesn't just mean it's time for young people to crack the books, it is also the harbinger of property tax bills, which homeowners should have received in recent days.

Most of that money goes to support local schools, and in the Niskayuna school district, taxpayers are benefiting from rates that are lower than expected for most property owners.

The 6.17 percent tax increase facing homeowners in Niskayuna is nearly a half percent less than originally expected when voters approved the district's $60.3 million budget in May.

The savings should leave owners of an average home assessed at $140,000 with a few extra dollars in their pocket, but they will still face a $3,867.78 tax bill prior to the STAR exemption. Business owners in town will get an even bigger savings, as they face a tax hike of just 5.86 percent.

The lower taxes are a result of assessments growing in Niskayuna due to new construction. Much of the building is tied to a nationwide housing boom that fueled higher prices for homes throughout the country until average prices stumbled slightly in August. Niskayuna has also benefited from its reputation as a prime suburban market in Schenectady County.

There is a lot more demand for residential property, and that usually means there is more growth in the homestead portion of tax rolls, said Matthew Bourgeois, the district's assistant superintendent for business. "With the assessment rolls going up, it allows us to bring in tax rates that are lower than expected."

With 78 percent of the sprawling school district's tax base in Niskayuna, property owners there will enjoy most of the savings. But the impact also stretches into the sections of Colonie that are in the district as well, with homeowners seeing a 5.64 percent tax hike and business owners being hit with only a 4.65 percent tax increase.

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