Forty- three municipal governments exceeded the newly enacted 2 percent cap on local property tax levy increases, Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s office said today.
DiNapoli, whose office is charged with ensuring local governments comply with the measure’s requirements, said his auditors are available to help the municipalities follow the new law.
“My auditors will be visiting the municipalities that exceeded their tax cap improperly to make sure they have taken corrective action and educed their tax bills or put any excess property tax revenue into a reserve as required by the law,” DiNapoli said. “Our review assisted local governments by providing insight into common issues and errors calculating the new tax cap, and I have directed my staff to develop additional training and expand our outreach to eliminate these errors.”
An override of the cap, passed in June, requires 60 percent of a local elected board to bypass the limit. Of the governments that overrode the cap legally, 177 or 22 percent of all municipalities were able to do so, DiNapoli’s office said.
For the local governments that couldn’t get the levy under 2 percent, the comptroller’s auditors worked with ten municipalities to take “correction action” and save local taxpayers from being improperly billed $280,000.
Still, the major caveats for all this tax cap is that school districts are yet to calculate their own budgets and determine how to stay within the limit. In school districts, budgets are not approved until the spring and it takes 60 percent of local voters to override the cap.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has spun this a democratic initiative, namely that voters have more of a say over their taxes than ever before.
In his appearance on Fred Dicker’s radio show today, Governor Andrew Cuomo addressed the controversy over teacher evaluations. Last week, State Education Commissioner John B. King announced suspended millions of dollars in funding from schools in the five boroughs and nine other districts around New York that missed a deadline to agree on plans for teacher evaluation programs. Governor Cuomo, who called for an education commission to come up with an evaluation plan in his State of the State address last week, described the situation with as a “major crisis for the state.” Though he doesn’t plan on personally getting involved in the tense negotiations on evaluations going on between local school districts and teacher’s unions, Governor Cuomo said something has to give.
“This situation is not going away, we need the evaluations done because it’s how we improve education. Second, we need an evaluation system, because it was the condition of the federal funding and it’s not going to get better,” Governor Cuomo said.
Establishing teacher evaluation programs was a condition of the $700 million in “Race to the Top” education education funding New York received from the federal government. In order to qualify for the funding, Governor Cuomo passed a state law requiring teacher evaluations in 2010. Teacher’s unions have successfully challenged that law in court arguing that it places too much emphasis in a teacher’s evaluation on student performance. Governor Cuomo admitted to Mr. Dicker that the current law on evaluations has proven to be “a failure.”
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The first week of the state legislative session opens today, and the state Association of Counties is using it to make their continued push for mandate relief.
The group of county leaders released a new report: “State Programs Funded by County Property Taxpayers.”
County governments say nine state-mandated programs account for 90 percent of their tax levy. They said today that in 2012 more than $11 billion in local taxes will be sent to the state to fund state-mandated programs.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is under increasing pressure from local governments to adopt tougher mandate-relief reforms. He announced last week that a panel will review mandate relief proposals and make recommendations before the legislative session ends in June.
Counties said they are pushing for five mandate-relief proposals: a state takeover of county Medicaid costs over six years; pension reform; reforms to the pre-school special education program transportation costs funded by counties; requiring health-insurance companies to fund medically-necessary early intervention services; and timely reimbursement from the state for state services delivered locally.
“We believe 2012 is the year for state leaders to enact meaningful mandate relief that will provide counties the ability to stabilize property taxes, continue critical local services and promote the economic vitality of our communities,” NYSAC executive Director Stephen J. Acquario said in a statement.
Here’s the report:
NYSAC County Mandates Report2
Greece schools Superintendent Barbara Deane-Williams will make her recommendations for school closings and consolidations during the Board of Education meeting Tuesday night.
Her recommendations will be the culmination of an intensive six-month study of ways to reconfigure the Greece Central School District in light of difficult economics and declining enrollment. Last month, committees looking at the issues made their recommendations and residents were able to weigh in on the options.
The Board of Education is expected to vote on Deane-Williams’ proposals on Jan. 24.
The committees recommended the district — which has seen its enrollment fall to 12,346 this year from a high of more than 14,000 students in 1997 — close two elementary school buildings and the building that houses its sixth-through 12th grade academy.
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