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District considers tax rate options

During a budget committee meeting at the Monday, Aug. 4, North Colonie Central School District Board of Education Meeting, board members took a straw vote to agree on a 3.76 percent tax rate increase for homeowners.

The increase, which was one of three options presented to the board, represented the lowest tax levy possible, and the closest figure to what district officials promised the public when they went to the polls to vote on the budget on Tuesday, May 20.

According to Assistant Superintendent for Business Tom Rybaltowski, the district's main priority was to ensure that the tax rate for homeowners would be as low as possible. In ensuring as much, the district had sent home-rule legislation to the state Legislature, hoping to pass a 1 percent cap on base proportion shifts.

What this means, Rybaltowski said, is that the shift of the tax burdens from commercial properties to residential properties, a recurring trend over the past few years, would be capped at 1 percent, creating more fair tax rates for homeowners.

We have to file this legislation every year, said Rybaltowski, who said that last year the district did have legislation passed, which granted them the 1 percent base cap.

As of Aug. 4, that legislation had not been signed by the governor, and therefore could not be relied on.

"There is a timing problem," Rybaltowski said at the meeting, noting that the district had been petitioning for the 1 percent base cap, but they were running out of time since the Town of Colonie has to be notified of the rate by Wednesday, Aug. 20.

"[There's] not a lot of hope here," he said.

So, at the meeting, board members had to review other options that did not include the base cap.

According to the option board members chose by straw vote, to later be voted on at the next Board of Education meeting, the district's estimate for state aid would increase by $180,000 and the use of fund balance would increase by $900,000, therefore reducing the tax increase by approximately $1,080,000, and reducing the tax rates for homeowners and commercial property owners.

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