The cap-buster count, 2014 edition

by Tim Hoefer |  | NY Torch

schoolbus2Twenty-four school districts sought to override the state’s property tax levy cap in yesterday’s school budget votes. Nine districts, or 38 percent of those attempting, failed to garner the 60 percent supermajority vote needed to pass an override.

Some initial takeaways:

The vast majority of school districts held their proposed tax levies below the statewide average of about 2.1 percent,  including allowances for voter-approved capital spending, property taxes generated by new construction, and other factors. On a per-pupil basis, as detailed in the Empire Center’s annual School Budget Spotlight, the average proposed tax levy hike came to 2.6 percent. Spending growth in proposed budgets was 3.2 percent per pupil, one and a half times the inflation rate.

The table below shows each district along with unofficial vote tallies, based on news accounts.

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This is the third year that the property tax cap has been in effect. Last year, 27 districts sought to override the cap, nearly three-quarters of those failed to collect the 60 percent supermajority to do so. In 2012, 48 districts sought to override the cap, with nearly two-thirds succeeding.

Those districts that failed to pass a budget in yesterday’s votes can present the same budget, or submit a revised budget, to voters in the next and final budget vote scheduled for June 17. If the district fails to pass a budget on the second try, the district’s tax levy is capped at zero. A third, less likely option would allow districts to implement a no-increase budget immediately.

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- Tim Hoefer is the Executive Director at the Empire Center for Public Policy.