Monday, April 18, 2011

Why Are Property Taxes In New York So High?


Long Islanders are feeling the pain for high property taxes along with the rest of the new yorkers. The very reason we need the Tax Cap proposed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The following post by  John H. Tedder explains it really well and it also goes thru some of the bullet points in the final report of the Commission on Property Tax Relief.

Long Island School Districts Tax Levy and Budgets 

Long Island Proposed school budgets for 2011-2012

Property Taxes by County across US



Consolidating school districts could save New York homeowners — who pay the highest property taxes in the nation — millions of dollars, but surprisingly, some don’t want to hear anything about it, especially if it involves their own school district.” So said Thomas R. Suozzi,  in an article called “Streamline Education Through Consolidation” published in the Saratogian newspaper on Sunday, January 4, 2009. Suozzi is Nassau County Executive and chairman of the New York State Commission on Property Tax Relief.

New Yorkers pay the highest property taxes in the nation. I just wanted to repeat that so that it sinks in. New York property taxes are 78% higher than the national average. What is wrong with New York?
One of the recommendations that the commission made is to consolidate school districts that have fewer than 1,000 students. I don’t know why they picked that number. It seems to me that it could be done with larger school districts. It should be looked at on a district by district basis. What makes sense?

According to Suozzi, we spend more per student in New York than any other state in America. Suozzi also said that people in the education community and taxpayers like the idea of consolidation, except for communities that would actually be effected. He thinks people worry that schools will be closed and their school identity taken away. Consolidation has nothing to do with that.

Consolidation is about combining the administrative functions of a school district. It means having one school administration instead of two or three. For example, the school district in which I live, Schuylerville has 1,862 students. It could be consolidated with another nearby school district such as Stillwater (1312 students) or Saratoga Springs (6,857students) or possibly all three could be combined. Again, what makes sense?

Each school would retain its individual identity. Property taxes would be lowered due to greater efficiency of the district’s administration. If we can get the job done with one administration instead of three, let’s put that money back in the taxpayer’s pocket where it belongs. We can’t continue to keep doing things the same way just because that’s the way it has always been done. Especially when the citizens of a community can’t afford it.

Consolidating school districts using commonsense is not punishing our schools. It is using our available tax dollars wisely and giving the overburdened New York taxpayer a well deserved break. Consolidating school districts using commonsense is not punishing our schools. It is using our available tax dollars wisely and giving the overburdened New York taxpayer a well deserved break.
Below are some excerpts from the final report of the Commission on Property Tax Relief. You can read the entire report here. You don’t have to read it all at once. If your head starts to spin, just take a break and go back to it later. The report is 94 pages plus 40 pages of supporting documentation. It is an interesting document and very well done. Appendix B contains all of the recommendations of the committee.

High property taxes have the most negative impact on low and moderate income working families, seniors on fixed incomes, and small business owners, who must shoulder this burden regardless of their ability to pay. Whether your concern is decreasing education costs, or increasing education spending, or addressing inequities in school funding, or improving programs, virtually all agree the answer cannot be to continue to increase property taxes at the current rate. The rate of increase in property taxes over recent years is unsustainable, and simply unfair to those who cannot afford to pay.
New York schools outside of New York City spend more per student than any state in the nation – an estimated $18,768 in 2008-09. New York’s per student spending is more than 50 percent above the national average. This results from high personnel costs; the number and complexity of mandates and expense of compliance, especially those that govern special education; and the large number of school districts, many of which are small.

The Commission recommends that the State support school districts’ efforts to rein in the costs of salaries, pensions and health care, as well as general operating and capital expenses. These recommendations address the root causes of high property taxes by adopting the following proposed solutions:
  • Increase health insurance premium contributions by employees and provide health insurance coverage jointly with other public employers or school districts, including increased use of health benefit trusts.
  • Centralize and streamline school district reporting to decrease personnel and other costs associated with sometimes duplicated and unnecessary forms and other filing requirements.
  • Require consolidation of school districts with fewer than 1,000 students and grant the Commissioner of Education discretionary authority to order consolidation of school districts with fewer than 2,000 pupils to achieve economies of scale and to increase educational opportunities through expanded course offerings.
  • Create countywide property tax assessment and uniform statewide assessing standards.


by John H. Tedder

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

how about lowering school liability with teachers unions getting sued on the rare occasions instead of school districts having to pay for teacher misconduct. Since teacher unions know their members would never do anything wrong then they would never have to worry & all union employees of the school could be treated the same.

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Long Island Property taxes most important issue, say LIers

No surprise here ! To stop this ridiculous rise in property taxes we have to educate our fellow LIers and contact your representative that they should demand Speaker Silver respond to the pleas of homeowners across the state and support a property tax cap in New York. It has already passed the senate but is being stalled in the Assembly by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

Also this year we are seeing some enormous rise in property taxes in school districts such as
William Floyd 12.47% and Seaford 8.99%. Some school districts such as Middle country is resorting to blackmailing its residents. The deal for districts residents is either approved a 6.68% increase or the district is going to force 21.61% increase in tax levy.


Published by THOMAS MAIER at Newsday

By a wide margin, property taxes are the most important issue facing Long Islanders, according to a Newsday / News 12 Long Island / Siena Research Institute Poll. Property taxes were cited overall by 45 percent of respondents, more than twice the 21 percent who cited "availability of good jobs" as the second most pressing issue for Long Islanders. "Property taxes are really an issue here because it keeps the young people from staying on Long Island and it will prevent the older people from staying, too," Tafuri explained.

Property taxes also are a large part of why the 57 percent of those polled said Long Islanders are headed in the "wrong direction" rather than the "right track" in the poll. A similar margin said New York State was headed in the wrong direction as well.

Property taxes are a particularly raw issue in Nassau County, where 53 percent cited them as the biggest issue, compared to 36 percent in Suffolk. Islandwide, Republicans and people 55 years or older complained about property taxes the most. "The Democrats love to spend money and they have to get it from the taxpayers," said one poll respondent, a retired Republican who lives on Nassau County's South Shore.

School costs - the biggest part of property tax bills - were also on the minds of Long Islanders who cited "the quality of public schools" among their top concerns. "The first thing I would do is eliminate tenure for teachers in public schools to cut costs," said another poll respondent, a 50-year-old Garden City man who is a Republican and who did not want to give his name. Although he was happy that his two children attending local schools got a good education there, he said his family's property tax bill has been overwhelming.

Property taxes hit a chord with all respondents, regardless of age, race, gender, religion, location or party affiliation. In addition to identifying the most important issue, the poll underlined the intensity of Long Islanders' general feelings about property taxes, with 86 percent calling the issue "very important" and 11 percent as "somewhat important." Crime, schools, good jobs and health care also received strong reactions, with traffic congestion and the local environment getting milder reactions.