State Budget offers local taxpayers relief on school taxes

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By Joe Moskowitz
The State of New York has a new budget in place and while not everyone is happy about it, there appears to be some good news in it for local taxpayers.
One of the biggest financial complaints area school administrators have had is what’s known as the state’s Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA). GEA goes back to the state’s deficit-filled years starting with the economic collapse in 2008. In order to pay its other bills, the state took back money it had promised school districts.
Margaretville Central School, which is considered a real estate wealthy district, has lost close to $3 million in state aid because of GEA.
Administrators were hoping the GEA would be eliminated in this year’s budget. It didn’t happen, but MCS will see more than $145,000 in state funding restored. That still leaves about $100,000 in aid that the state is keeping that should go to MCS, but Superintendent Tony Albanese said, “It helps.” In the state’s new budget, here will be a 5.3 per cent increase in state­wide aid to education.
The state is also offering a total $1.5 billion in property tax refunds to taxpayers in school districts and municipalities, which keep increases below the two percent cap. Rebate checks will start being mailed in the fall.
But Robert Lowry of the State Association of School Administrators said it’s not as good as it sounds.

Lower amounts
Lowry said in Westchester County, which is considered wealthy, the average school rebate check will be about $650 but for the rest of the upstate the average will be about $200.
The new state budget also calls for a 20 percent reduction on property tax for manufacturers.
Moody’s Investment Services praised the budget, largely because it was approved on time, for the fourth year in a row.
Governor Andrew Cuomo praised the lawmakers for passing tax cuts. Liberal groups claimed the cuts only benefit the wealthy.