The change from a credit to a rebate check is more aimed at helping the state's ledger to pay for new spending in the state budget, such as a $1 billion income-tax cut, said E.J. McMahon, president of the Empire Center, an Albany-based conservative think tank.
"Every year, it’s actually going to steadily erode the apparent cost of STAR because every year, as houses change hands, more and more of STAR will shift from the spending side to the revenue side of the budget," he said.
State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli has officially confirmed what federal inflation statistics were already telegraphing: New York's statutory cap on local school property tax levies will be just a hair above zero for 2016-17 school year budgets, which will be submitted for voter approval in May.
Budget deficits papered over with borrowed money and fiscal gimmicks. Unaffordable union contracts. Pension contributions “amortized” into the future. Retiree health benefits promised but unfunded. Corruption probes and whiffs of scandal. Accountability blurred, responsibility shirked, and hard decisions avoided again and again.
That litany could describe any number of old, declining American cities—including a few that, like Detroit, actually went broke. But the same dysfunction exists in affluent corners of New York’s archetypal suburb: Long Island
All the checks dilute the intent of trying to lower people’s tax bills, said E.J. McMahon, president of the Empire Center, a fiscally conservative think tank in Albany.
Long Island town officials are crying the blues over the budgetary squeeze supposedly created by the state’s property-tax cap. They’re not alone: You’ll hear much the same from town pols elsewhere in the metro region and across New York state.
But the thrust of their complaints — that the tax cap is somehow blocking urgent public projects and programs — just won’t hold water.
Before area taxpayers and their counterparts statewide get too excited over the looming lower property tax hike for next year, they need to be mindful of the other side of the coin.
The starting point for computing next year's local property tax cap in most of New York State will be less than 1 percent—and so state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli is warning local governments "brace for ... [lower] growth in property tax revenues."
DiNapoli's tone clearly implies that a lower tax cap is a negative. But most property owners will no doubt see it another way.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and state legislative leaders would have you believe that they just approved "property tax cuts for homeowners," as described in their joint announcement of an end-of-session deal last week.
Don't believe them.