The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

October 22, 2012

School tax statement was misleading

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The Daily Star

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Taxpayers in the Oneonta City School District: Take a careful look at your school tax bill. In spite of the 2 percent state tax cap, the change in your actual tax rate is between negative 3.1 percent and positive 6.6 percent! The nearly 10 percent variation depends on where you live.

In the city of Oneonta, the rate decreased by 3.1 percent. In three of the last four years, city residents enjoyed a decrease in their tax rate, and the one exception showed a meager increase of .26 percent.

Meanwhile, town of Oneonta residents, still reeling from the re-assessment and resulting outrageous tax bills, had a rate increase of 6.6 percent! In previous years, town residents bore a similar burden of the rate increases. Most of the other towns that make up the school district had similar increases. (And no, I still don’t want a merger.)

And yet, the sample ballot included the misleading statement “If approved, this would result in approximately a 1.8 percent tax increase.” A 10 percent swing is hardly “approximately.”

So much for a tax cap. In fact, the tax cap applies to the total levy. The district uses some formula to determine who pays what towards that total levy. STAR increases however, were uniformly limited to a 2 percent cap.

Two suggestions:

Contact your elected representatives to correct this inequity. If the tax levy goes up by 1.8 percent, then the rate increase should be applied equally. To do otherwise is fundamentally unfair and inconsistent with the spirit of a tax cap.

At school budget time, demand that the district Business Manager provide an estimate of how any tax levy increase will be applied to each municipality so residents can cast informed votes on the budget.

James Milavec

Oneonta