JCS: Tax cap formula keeps changing

Effects on 2012-13 budget uncertain

Johnsburg Central School

Johnsburg Central School

— Albany continues to tinker with its 2 percent property tax cap, and its most recent tweak would limit the Johnsburg Central School District not to a 2 percent ceiling but to a 0.6 percent maximum.

If that limit holds, the district's 2012-13 tax levy could be no more than about $5.2 million. No more than $31,862.37 over last year's levy, to be exact, said Kathy Spring, the district's business officer.

The news was delivered at a brief school board meeting Monday, Feb. 27.

The uncertainty comes from the fact that the tax cap is not a simple cap at all. It's a formula that adds, subtracts and multiplies 11 factors.

Pour in the items, such as the previous levy, payments made by the school in lieu of taxes and certain court costs, and the end result is a taxing body's actual cap of 2 percent or less.

Spring said the state has changed the budget items that must be included in the formula multiple times. Bus purchases this year and next year, for example, are complicating the cap formula for Johnsburg.

“Here it is, almost March 1, and we're still getting new interpretations (of the formula),” Spring explained Tuesday morning, Feb. 28.

There is a great deal of uncertainty about the coming year's budget. Contract talks with teachers have begun, though no fireworks are expected. Also, Empire BlueCross BlueShield has signaled that it will raise the district's premiums as much as 15 percent. That figure won't be concrete for until mid-March.

It's hard to find a pattern in the district's levies over the last five years. The percentage increase or decrease according to the previous years has bobbed around:

•2011-12: -10 percent

•2010-11: +3 percent

•2009-10: +10.75 percent

•2008-09: 0 percent

•2007-08: -3.35 percent

Johnsburg Superintendent Mike Markwica continues to caution the community about what could be a very tight year.

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