School districts have no control over state-set equalization rates

To the Editor:

We have received several communications from town of Guilderland residents in our school district, expressing concerns that their school tax rates have increased for 2017-18 at a much higher rate than other towns in our district.

While this is certainly an inequitable situation, it is unfortunately outside of the control of the school district. The Voorheesville School District tax levy increase for 2017-18 is 2.0 percent; however, the higher rate for Town of Guilderland taxpayers is caused by a substantial change in the equalization rate, which has the effect of shifting more of the tax burden to Guilderland taxpayers.

Town of Guilderland property owners are paying 24.8 percent of the total Voorheesville School District tax levy in 2017-18 as compared to 22.5 percent of the levy in 2016-17 due to the equalization rate change.

The effect of the equalization rate change and the resulting shift of the tax burden for the town of Guilderland taxpayers has impacted all of the school districts in the area with properties in Guilderland as shown by the 2017-18 tax rate changes by town for each district:

Voorheesville Central School District

Town                                     Tax Rate Change

Guilderland                                 +11.78%

New Scotland                                -2.03%

Berne                                            -3.99%

 

Mohonasen Central School District

Town                                     Tax Rate Change

Guilderland                               +18.75%

Rotterdam                                  +1.98%

Colonie                                      +3.78%

 

Schalmont Central School District

Town                                     Tax Rate Change

Guilderland                                 +16.77%

Florida                                         +3.38%

Duanesburg                                  +1.98%

Princetown                                   +1.92%

Rotterdam                                    +0.22%
 

South Colonie Central School District

Town                                     Tax Rate Change

Guilderland                                  +12.26%

Colonie                                          -2.10%

Niskayuna                                      -3.59%

 

Guilderland Central School District

Town                                     Tax Rate Change

Guilderland                                   +1.61%

Bethlehem                                   -12.73%

New Scotland                               -10.95%

Knox                                             -9.82%

As shown above, the tax rate increase in each school district for town of Guilderland residents is much higher than the rates for residents in the other towns. This is the result of the equalization rate for Guilderland changing substantially, resulting in a shift of more of the tax burden to Guilderland taxpayers.

School districts have no control over equalization rates, which are set by the state. Nor do school districts have control over assessments, which are done by the towns.  School districts by law cannot change the equalization rates provided by the state and also cannot change the assessed values provided by the towns.

I hope this information provides some clarity to a very confusing and frustrating process. Should you need additional information, please contact the Voorheesville Central School District Office at (518) 765-3313.

Brian Hunt, superintendent

Voorheesville schools

Editor’s note: See Sept. 7 page-one story, “Reval on the horizon?: Guilderland unsuccessful in appealing new state-set equalization rate,” and accompanying editorial, “Property revaluation: 1,000 standards = no standard at all.” See also related story in this week’s paper.

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