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Letter: Correcting Misinformation

Do not assume that voting down the school budget guarantees your property taxes will be capped at 2 percent. New York State’s Tax levy “cap” calculation, which is based on a complex 8-step formula, will not, necessarily, keep local property taxes in check.

Legislator Wayne Wink, a Democrat from Roslyn, said it best when he said, “What people perceived as a tax cap that was going to limit their increase to 2 percent does anything but.” (http://newyork.cbslocal. com/2012/10/05/exclusive-shocking-school-tax-hikes-hit-nassau-county/) How can this be? Because, inclusive of the property tax rate and property tax levy, there are multiple factors that are used to determine a resident’s property tax bill.

First, tax bills are calculated by using a property’s assessed value, determined by Nassau County, as a share of the total assessed value of all property in a school district.

Second, the state uses equalization rates designed to more evenly distribute the tax burden within the district. Therefore, a property owner who successfully appeals their annual assessment merely shifts the burden to those who do not grieve their taxes. Consequently, while some property taxpayers may see lower bills, others are seeing bills going in the other direction. The difference has to be made up by someone.

The effectiveness of the tax cap is further undermined by the fact that residential property owners are picking up a larger share of the tax levy pie because more commercial property owners are successfully challenging their assessments, too: “Successful commercial tax challenges have shifted more of the property tax burden onto single family homeowners.” (Newsday, March 16, 2013)

So, a “No” vote does NOT guarantee that your tax bill will not increase. However, a “No” vote will guarantee a change in the delivery of educational excellence and the reputation of the Manhasset Public School District.

Elise Kline