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North Colonie tax rate edges downward

The North Colonie Central School District announced a tax rate for the 2009-2010 school year that is lower than originally estimated, coming in at $20.99 per $1,000 of assessed property value.

The tax rate is a 2.49 percent increase over last year's $20.479 per $1,000 of assessed property value tax rate.

According to the district's assistant superintendent for business, Tom Rybaltowski, the tax rate is actually the second-lowest the district has been able to set for taxpayers in the past 20 years.

One of the biggest reasons the tax rate is so low, Rybaltowski said, is because the district moved back to a one-tier tax rate system. Under the two-tier system, a base proportion shift was causing the bulk of the tax burden from commercial property owners to be forced upon residential property taxpayers.

Moving the district from a two-tier tax rate to a one-tier tax rate was advantageous for the residential taxpayers because it lessened the tax burden for them as the gap between the tax rate for residential property owners and commercial property owners was eliminated.

Another added benefit to the move was the tax rate process became easier to explain to voters and taxpayers.

Every year, school districts estimate the tax rate prior to the budget vote in spring. The North Colonie Central School District tried to be conservative with its estimate of 2.9 percent.

We lowered it by about half a percent, Rybaltowski said. "We do try to come in lower than our [estimate]."

Rybaltowski said the district added money from its own fund balance to keep the rate lower for taxpayers.

"We utilized money from our fund balance to lower the tax levy, which in effect lowers the tax rate," Rybaltowski said.

Last year, the district collected just over $58 million from taxpayers, Rybaltowski said.

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