Saturday, May 7, 2011

New York Tax Cap should be snug fit

The State Senate’s vote to establish a property tax cap is welcome news to all New Yorkers. The concept of setting a cap to limit the annual growth of property taxes in New York has extensive support – 83% of all respondents including 88% of homeowners in a recent Siena poll expressed their support for a property tax cap. But seems like its being stalled in the Assembly. We want the cap done right not something which is there for symbolic reasons but easy ways for school to circumvent that.

What a turn around ! Just a few years back the state was considering a law to eliminate school budget votes altogether as long as the school district does not propose an increase of more than 4 percent.

Talk of a property tax cap in this state is practically old hat.

David A. Paterson favored a cap when he was governor, and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo last year made it a centerpiece of his campaign. The Republican-controlled State Senate adopted cap legislation in 2008. Yet somehow no cap became law, and taxes just kept soaring.

Now, suddenly, caps are back in fashion. Cuomo is embarking on a statewide tour to drum up support for the idea, and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) is drafting his own cap proposal, which is a big deal because previously he's been cold to the idea.

It looks, in other words, like this time a legal limit on property tax hikes might actually happen. That's great news; after years of runaway increases driven by soaring school costs, it was clear that nothing else was going to work, and so this page has advocated just such a plan.

But there's a difference between donning a snugly fitting, reasonably well-ventilated cap and simply putting a colander on your head. It's crucial that Albany gets this -- and adopts a cap that really works.
No feasible tax cap can be absolute; even our ideal chapeau would limit increases to something like 2 percent annually while allowing bigger increases if 60 percent of voters approve. But our fear is that Silver's plan will be so loose as to be meaningless. Municipalities and school districts are beset by fast-rising costs for retirement and health benefits, and so often oppose caps or want exemptions in these areas. Yet that's the point of a cap: by making it impossible to pass these costs along to voters, politicians would have to stop agreeing to them in the first place.

Silver isn't the only potential problem on this issue. Senate Republicans are caught between anti-cap teachers (whose wage gains might be limited) and local officials (whose lives are made easier by elastic budgets), on one hand, and tea party activists, on the other, who'll demand scalps if lawmakers come home without the right headgear.

Cuomo and the legislature actually cut spending this year, so why not another miracle? We're not asking for a halo. Just a nice snug cap.

Source: editorial from Newsday
Read complete editorial here ...

Now that Governor Cuomo has become a champion for capping local property taxes, he has apparently enlisted some surprising converts, among them some Long Island school superintendents.

But don’t be fooled. When Long Island school superintendents embrace tax caps, it’s only part of a strategy to fill them with holes—loopholes. After years of debunking the idea, school superintendents are proposing their own version of local property tax caps. 

In a letter to state lawmakers, the Suffolk County School Superintendents Association recently urged that property taxes be capped only in school districts where residents vote “no” on a budget. Even then, the superintendents want a loophole permitting school districts to raise taxes above the cap if they lose state aid, or if they have to increase pension contributions. 

What’s being debated in Albany is some form of cap that will limit increases in school property taxes to two or three percent a year, or at the rate of inflation—no, ifs, ands or buts.

The idea is to stop the ever-escalating cost of property taxes that are driving people out of Long Island and New York State. A recent census report ranks Nassau and Suffolk homeowners as the seventh and eleventh most highly taxed in terms of household income.

If school superintendents have their way, exemptions will permit school property taxes to keep on climbing despite any law designed to cap them. How we wish the school superintendents would direct their ample ingenuity towards cutting school spending, instead of concentrating their energies on devising more loopholes to torment taxpayers.

Source: editorial from Cablevision

No comments:

Post a Comment

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.