NISKAYUNA: Tax hike is under five percent

Coming in close to their original mark, the Niskayuna school board is preparing to give final approval to a tax hike that will hit 4.24 percent at its Monday, Aug. 20, meeting. That's slightly below the estimated increase of 4.25 percent that was put before town residents when voters approved a $63.2 million annual budget in the spring.

We have been fortunate in that state aid and assessments have been on track with what we expected, said the district's Assistant Superintendent for Business Matthew Bourgeois. "Everything worked out pretty well and we are coming in just slightly below what we expected."

The tax hike will be included in bills that will come due for Niskayuna residents by the end of September. Those bills don't include changes taking place as part of the property revaluation being worked on by Town Assessor Amy Houlihan's office and GAR Associates, a private consulting firm.

That project has led to some residents expressing concern about whether it will dramatically impact property taxes, according to Republican town board candidate Scott Stevens.

"When I'm out knocking on doors and campaigning, I hear from a lot of people and some of them have expressed concern about whether the revaluation will mean that their taxes are going to go up dramatically," Stevens said.

"How much your actual tax bill is going to be depends not only on what your property is assessed at, but what the tax rate is as well, and sometimes people don't understand that," said Stevens. "My one concern is that the town decided to reassess properties at a time when the prices of homes were at near record levels. That could mean a dramatic increase in assessments in Niskayuna and, if tax rates aren't lowered accordingly, we could have a substantial tax increase that could hurt home-owners, especially seniors on fixed incomes."

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