South Colonie tax rate higher than expected

District officials in the South Colonie Central School District blame equalization rates for the higher-than-expected property tax rates from what was originally projected by officials in May.

At a special meeting of the South Colonie Board of Education, officials decided on a 5.92 percent increase for homeowners, up from the 4 percent increase that voters had approved when they voted on the 2008-2009 budget in May.

The district blames the increased rate on a change in equalization rates, or a shift of the tax burden between residential and commercial properties.

According to Beverly Miller, assistant superintendent for management services, We had some significant tax certioaris that were won by the commercial properties.

John Noetzel, communications coordinator for the district, explained that when the commercial properties win certiorari lawsuits, their taxes go down while homeowners' taxes go up.

In the past, Noetzel said, the district has tried to remedy that by sending legislation to the state Legislature that would place a cap on the rate at which homeowners can be taxed.

Several school districts throughout the area use this type of legislation to ease the tax burden on homeowners, including the North Colonie Central School District. This year, the North Colonie Central School District had pushed to have a 1 percent base cap put on the tax, however the bill was unsuccessful in the Legislature.

Due to the lack of success with such legislation in the past, Noetzel said the South Colonie Central School District decided not to ask the Legislature for the base cap.

The 5.92 percent tax rate increase amounts to about $22.62 per $1,000 of assessed value for homeowners, and $25.61 per $1,000 of assessed value for commercial property owners.

In May, when residents voted on the tax rate, what they were actually approving was the amount that the district is allowed to collect in overall taxes, or the tax levy. The levy voters approved this year was $61,157,370, and that figure has not changed, district officials said.

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