While students and teachers in Pleasantville celebrate the end of the school year with field trips and graduations, school districts, like the Pleasantville Union Free District, could be placed in a precarious situation next year with the passage of the tax cap legislation.
“The tax cap is a political gimmick that is designed to deflect dramatic tax increases which are caused by a dramatic decrease in state aid with respect to both local governments and school districts,” said 89th district Assemblyman Tom Abinanti (D-White Plains). “It is also designed to deflect criticism of the plan to cut taxes for the rich. If it was such a good idea then why does it apply only to property tax? If it’s such a good idea for the state government to interfere with home rule then why don’t we cap all taxes and look at the tax burden not just property tax?”
The proposed law would cap property taxes, preventing them from increasing by more than a few percentage points, with the goal of relieving the tax burden on Westchester homeowners, who pay among the highest property taxes in the country.
“Indirectly, it’s going to cause the total abandonment of local governments and school districts of any infrastructural improvements,” Abinanti said. “The infrastructure in this state is a disaster. If you want to put people back to work and what to improve the economy they should be doing infrastructure improvements everywhere. This is going to squeeze local governments and school districts.”
Local property taxpayers have carried an increasing share of the burden to fund school district budgets, as the state has cut its state aid contribution nearly every year. At the same time, school districts must follow expensive state mandates for items such as special education, teacher pensions and other benefits where costs continue to rise.
Despite the outcry against the measure by school administrators and parents, the measure is expected to be adopted by both the Assembly and the Senate. Governor Cuomo is the leading supporter of the tax cap.
Legislators will end their session for the summer on Monday, and the law is expected to reach the floor prior to the close of the session, according to 90th district Assemblywoman Sandra Galef (D-Ossining).