Weekly Feature

2012-03-28 / Letters to the Editor

School budget votes count

In prior years, voters were presented with a school budget formulated with minimal taxpayer input, alongside a contingency budget that was hardly any different. Our votes did not count for much. But, starting this year, the rules have changed.

New York passed a property tax cap law that limits the yearly school tax levy increase to 2 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower. Some things increase this rate, including voter approved capital costs. This year, the adjusted tax cap for Clarence is 2.24 percent.

The tax cap is not absolute. The district can present a budget with an increase above the cap, but then 60 percent of voters must approve it. If it presents a budget with an increase at or below the cap, only 50 percent of voters must approve it. The district can submit a second budget to voters if the first budget is defeated. But if voters defeat the budget twice, the district must operate with the previous year’s budget, and school taxes will not increase.

For the first time, voters will have the power to block or approve any tax increase. Plan to vote this year — your vote really counts!

Jean Davis

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