Tight tax cap a good fit

We are sure many local school districts think the tax-levy cap will be too snug for their 2016-17 budgets.

But we encourage them to keep their spending plans within the cap. After all, the tax cap is doing what it was intended to – provide a check on the growth of local spending and help taxpayers deal with annual cost increases from municipalities.

The state tax cap limits the growth in annual property tax levies by local governments in New York state to either about 2 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower.

State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli recently announced property tax levy growth for school districts will be capped at 0.12 percent above current levels for the 2016-17 fiscal year.

Complying with the cap will require some hard choices in many school districts, but that is the correct thing to do.

The cap has been effective in restraining the constant increase of the tax levies. As we noted last year, the Albany-based nonprofit Empire Center for Public Policy found since the cap took effect in 2012, school tax levies have risen by an average of only 2.2 percent annually, which is the lowest in any four-year period since 1982.

It will be tempting for many districts to try to take the easy way out by asking voters for a supermajority – 60 percent voter approval – to override the cap.

Staying within the cap will be tough, but it is necessary if the growth in property taxes – which are helping to drive businesses and people out of the state – is truly going to be capped.

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