Your Vote REALLY Counts this Year in Your School Budget Elections!
On Tuesday, May 15th, New Yorkers across the state are going to the polls to vote on school budgets and elect school board members for the 2012-13 academic year.
This year more than ever, your vote will really count!
In the past, voters were presented with a school budget which if voted down, usually resulted in a contingency budget that would also increase taxes. There was not much of a reason to vote if when an increase was rejected, they would implement a contingency budget with an increase! Our votes did not count for much.
But starting this year – the rules have changed. New York passed a property tax cap law.
How does the tax cap work?
It limits the yearly school tax levy increase to 2% or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower. Some things increase this rate, like voter approved capital costs and a portion of pensions. The tax cap will be unique to each district but for most school districts, the cap will actually be between 2% – 4%.
But the tax cap is not absolute. The district can present a budget with an increase above the cap, but then 60% of voters must approve it. If they present a budget within the cap, over 50% of voters must approve it.
However, if a budget (either at or above the cap) is defeated, the district can submit a second budget to voters. But if they defeat the budget twice, the district must operate within the previous year’s budget and school taxes will not increase.
For the first time, voters have the power to block or approve any school property tax increase!
New York State has some of the highest property taxes in the nation and spends the most per student on education, 73% above the national average. With the passage of the NYS tax cap, local communities now have the ability to control the spiraling school property tax increases in their districts.
Check out your school districts website to find your polling place and learn more about your school budget.
And get out and vote!
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