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More schools seek to break tax cap in budget votes

Thomas Favre-Bulle
via Flickr

School budget votes and school board elections are being held across the state Tuesday, and the New York State School Boards Association says more schools are seeking to convince voters to override the state’s tax cap.

The school boards association says twice as many schools this year are seeking to override a state property tax cap that will limit many schools to a 1 percent tax increase or lower. It’s still not a large number -- 36 districts among the state’s approximately 700 school districts. That compares to 18 last year. The school board association’s David Albert says schools are reluctant to break the cap because they need approval from a super majority, or 60 percent, of voters.

“It’s much more difficult to pass a budget that seeks to override the cap,” Albert says. “For that reason many districts don’t even try.”

The cap is two percent a year, or the rate of inflation, which is at near zero percent currently. But Albert says school’s cost for employees, health care and pensions are above the average rate of inflation. He says a true 2 percent cap would be better for schools.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.