November 22, 2011
School budgets aren't unveiled until sometime in the Spring and voters don't head to the polls until May, but the North Colonie School District is getting a head start on making sure its voters are as informed as possible.
The district recently held a forum to explain the property tax cap, a sometimes tricky concept to understand, especially in light of the new 2 percent tax cap limit. The forum was webcast to reach more community members who couldn't attend in person.
“It’s important that our community understands this new law and how it will affect all those involved,” Superintendent D. Joseph Corr said. “It’s not as simple as it sounds and the only way we can help to clarify the gray areas is to continue to be out in front of the issue.”
Corr started off with a brief overview of the current budget outlook before delving into the tax levy limit discussion. While many factors, including state aid figures, have yet to be determined, Corr provided community members with the district’s current projections heading into the 2012-13 budget season.
As of now, the district is projecting to use $1.3 million of its fund balance to help offset the cost to tax payers and reduce the amount of program cuts; however, that projection can change.
“There is so much that is yet to be determined,” Corr said. “We will get a better sense of where we are from a financial standpoint in January when the Governor releases his budget and we get our state aid figures.”
Corr explained the 2 percent tax cap and pointed out that it's not as restrictive as it sounds.
"...It does not in fact restrict any proposed tax levy increase to 2 percent. The law does, however, require at least 60 percent voter approval for a school budget if the proposed levy increase exceeds a certain amount," stated information on the school district website.
That amount, called the “tax levy limit,” will be determined by the district according to a complex formula outlined in the law. Corr said to arrive at a budget with only a 2 percent increase in taxes would mean "wiping out" programs that many students rely on.
Corr said the district would continue to disperse information to voters through the website, the school notification system and mailings. He also encouraged the community to attend future budget meetings and get involved.
The district will be holding another budget forum in January.
For more detailed information about what went down at the forum head over to the website: [http://www.northcolonie.org/news/2011-12/111115_tax_cap_forum.htm]