Schenectady’s property tax revaluation will result in lower tax bills next year for more than half the city’s residents and businesses — a bit of rare good news for them. Unfortunately, the news will only be about half as good as it should be because the city school district — which accounts for slightly less than half of the local tax burden — doesn’t want to use the newly updated data for another year.
District officials say their its tax bills go out June 30, one day before the city’s July 1 deadline for certifying the new roll for the coming year. But that date could be changed if the district felt like changing it. (In fact, most school districts in the state send out their tax bills in September.)
A spokesman for the state Office of Real Property Services told a reporter last week that Schenectady is the last school district to still use data from the previous year’s assessment roll; everyone else changed a decade ago. Thus, no matter how up-to-date assessments are, they’re always at least a year outdated for school tax purposes. While that may not matter much in most years, in a year when a revaluation has changed almost all assessments, it could make a big difference for a lot of taxpayers.
Wouldn’t it be nice for the more than half of all Schenectadians, who’ve been paying more than their fair share of taxes, to get the break they deserve this year — instead of having to wait until next? (And especially since the reduction, in part due to a sharp hike in General Electric Co.’s assessment, may disappear if GE takes the city to court and wins.) Perhaps changing the system will inconvenience the district’s business office, but if every other school district in the state can figure out a way to do it, why can’t Schenectady?