Assessment data ease tax burden for Niskayuna school district residents

Wednesday, August 14, 2013
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— Tax rates in the Niskayuna Central School District will increase a little less than expected.

The district received final property tax assessment data this week, and commercial assessment growth in Niskayuna shifted some burden away from residential taxpayers, officials said. The actual amount to be raised by taxes is unchanged and is 3.95 percent higher than last year.

Voters rejected a proposed budget with a 5.76 percent tax levy increase in May. The school board later reduced that levy increase to 3.95 percent as part of a $75.7 million budget. That budget increased spending only 0.47 percent over the previous year, and voters approved it in June.

The initial proposal exceeded the district’s 4.66 percent tax levy cap; the revised budget did not.

With the final numbers in place, homeowners in Niskayuna will see tax rates of $18.34 per $1,000 of assessed value, a 2.93 percent increase over the 2012-13 budget.

The district also includes small parts of Clifton Park, Colonie and Glenville. The tax rate will increase 2.98 percent in Clifton Park and 2.09 percent in Colonie but decrease 0.02 percent in Glenville.

Commercial tax rates will increase 3.73 percent in Niskayuna, 1.04 percent in Colonie and 2.54 percent in Clifton Park but decrease 0.71 percent in Glenville.

Tax bills will be mailed out in the coming weeks.

Also this week, Assemblyman Phil Steck urged district officials to talk to him early about budget issues, before the yearly crunch hits.

Steck, D-Colonie, spoke to the school board Tuesday night during the public comment period and asked board members to come to him with ideas, especially smaller changes that could help.

“One of the difficulties that we have with a part-time legislature is that comprehensive reforms are extremely difficult,” he told the board. “But an individual member, if someone comes up with a really good idea for a change that’s narrowly focused, that’s certainly something I’m interested in doing.”

New board member Patricia Lanotte asked Steck about grants, saying the district is “sort of hog-tied” in getting access to grants as easily as other districts based on perceived need.

Steck indicated that could be worked on and looked at.

He got the district $100,000 in state “bullet” aid as part of the district’s budget approved in June. State Sen. Hugh Farley, R-Niskayuna, got the district $275,000.

The district budgeted to spend $200,000 of that this year, holding the rest back for reserves.

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