Ninety-three percent of school board members who participated in an informal online poll said they are optimistic their budgets will pass on May 21, the first budget vote, according to the New York State School Boards Association. Seven percent said they didn’t think they would get approval on the first try.
Fifty-four percent of the more than 600 school board members said they believe the state’s cap on property-tax levy hikes led their districts to adopt smaller increases than they would have otherwise. Forty percent said the cap didn’t lead their district to adopt a smaller tax levy. Six percent were not sure.
This is the second year the state has limited the growth in the property-tax levy to 2 percent. The law caps the increase at 2 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower. Certain areas are exempted from the cap, such as growth in pension costs.The average statewide proposed tax levy increase is 2.9 percent.
Just 28 of New York’s 669 school districts are proposing to override the cap. They include Ardsley, Briarcliff Manor, Irvington and Scarsdale. The average increase in state aid in the 2013-14 fiscal year, which began April 1, was 4 percent. Last year, about 50 school districts sought to override the cap.
“School board members and their leadership teams have devoted countless hours listening to their communities and crafting budgets that balance the needs of students and taxpayers,” Timothy G. Kremer, executive director of the School Boards Association, said in a statement.
A little more than half of the respondents — 53 percent — said the amount their districts could raise in property taxes under the cap was sufficient to meet their budgetary needs. But 43 percent said that was not the case. Four percent were unsure.
The NYSSBA Pulse Poll was conducted in early May.