Schenectady County

Schenectady school budget includes small tax hike

School taxes will go up slightly if the proposed Schenectady City School District budget is approved

School taxes will go up slightly if the proposed Schenectady City School District budget is approved.

The average taxpayer would pay an estimated $7 more on a house assessed at $100,000, school officials estimated. Residents in the small section of Rotterdam that is in the Schenectady district would see a decrease of 38 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value.

However, the total amount of taxes paid by the community will remain the same. The tax levy will be $54.1 million, which is unchanged from this year.

The $193.4 million budget includes $3.4 million in new spending, primarily to add specialists to address student behavior problems. School board members unanimously approved the budget Wednesday, but said they weren’t thrilled by it.

“It’s hard to jump up and down with this budget,” said board member Ann Reilly, adding she felt the state should have given Schenectady more aid.

Board member Cheryl Nechamen said she wished there was money for two music teachers needed to teach instrumental lessons to students currently on a waiting list.

“I’m so disappointed with all these new positions, we couldn’t find room for those two music teachers,” Nechamen said.

She questioned the spending on specialists to work with students with mental health diagnoses.

“I think it’s a laudable goal; I just don’t know if it’s an achievable goal,” she said. “It means you’re not spending it on teaching.”

Reilly said teachers wanted help with student behavior.

“We have to educate the kids that come to us,” she said. “We can’t wish for other kids. Mental health affects our ability to teach those kids.”

The school board will hold a budget hearing at 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 6, at the high school.

Due to shifts in assessments and equalization rates, school officials emphasized they aren’t sure exactly how much residents will pay if the budget is approved. The actual tax impact depends upon equalization rates, which are set by the state in July, creating the possibility tax rates could change after the May vote.

The district is assuming Rotterdam’s equalization rate will be 100 percent, meaning houses are assessed at their market price. The district is also assuming Schenectady’s equalization rate will be 121 percent, which indicates houses are assessed 21 percent above the price a new owner would pay for the property.

Residents complained in the fall when the Rotterdam tax rate was much higher than expected. This year, officials asked for estimated equalization rates so they could offer an estimated tax rate.

State tax officials confirmed Schenectady’s tentative assessment roll would have a 121 percent equalization rate. That means the estimated tax rate would be $22.67 per $1,000 of assessed value for Schenectady residents and $27.43 per $1,000 of assessed value for Rotterdam residents.

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