The state's alleged "2 percent" tax-levy cap has, for the most part, failed to live up to its name. The formula for determining each local cap allows some school districts to raise their tax levies by a crushing 8 percent.
However, many local schools shouldn't have to raise taxes at all in 2013-14. The state Legislature this week approved a large increase in aid for school districts in the 2013-14 state budget.
All local school districts are getting increases. For example, the Gloversville Enlarged School District will get $30.7 million in aid for 2013-14, a 2.2 percent increase from 2012-13. The Greater Johnstown School District will get $16.6 million for 2013-14, a 5.7 percent increase from this school year. Fonda-Fultonville will receive $12 million next school year, an 8.6 percent increase. The numbers do not include building aid.
The aid increases are important to note because some school districts already were considering tax-levy increases.
Fonda-Fultonville's Board of Education is considering a budget proposal for 2013-14 that would increase the tax levy by 5 percent. The Johnstown school district is considering a budget for next school year that could increase the tax levy by 4 percent.
Keeping the increases in aid in mind, we hope the members of our local school boards will hold the line on taxes, or at least stay under an actual 2 percent levy increase.
We understand the state has failed to significantly reduce unfunded mandates. School districts across the state have to battle budget pressures caused by politicians in Albany, which isn't fair.
However, given how much already is being asked of local taxpayers, local school boards need to keep tax increases as low as possible. Cutting taxes would be even better.
State officials, meanwhile, should take another look at the formula that allows school districts to raise their tax levies by a hefty percentage and still stay within the "2 percent" tax cap.
The public was told the cap would keep tax increases down, but the formula is allowing school districts to put forward the same level of increases they were adopting before the state enacted the cap.