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Group says state's tax cap appears successful

Group says state's tax cap appears successful

The property tax cap has saved taxpayers up to $7.6 billion in the past two years, the Empire Center

The property tax cap has saved taxpayers up to $7.6 billion in the past two years, the Empire Center and the Business Council announced.

The nonpartisan policy research group plans to issue details on regional savings today, the day that residents throughout the state vote on their school budgets.

Researchers at the center gathered tax data from 1982-1983 through 2012-2013 to see how schools taxed before the tax cap was instituted.

“That captures times of economic growth, it captures recessions,” said Ken Girardin, co-author of the research paper on the tax cap.

Statewide, taxes rose an average of 5.98 percent per year, Girardin said. He did not look at the big six cities, because they were affected differently by the tax cap.

For the rest of the state, in the past 30 years there was no year where taxes rose 2 percent or less, he said.

Taxes have risen on average by less than 2 percent in each of the last two years because of the tax cap, he said.

“It has definitely been effective at reducing property tax increases,” he said.

The tax cap has been generally known as a 2-percent tax cap, although certain expenses don’t count toward the cap, allowing districts to sometimes offer a tax increase above 2 percent. Other expenses can reduce the cap. Sharon Springs had to cut taxes for 2015-2016 to meet the cap after receiving a sudden influx of taxes from Walmart.

Girardin researched the issue because it will be debated in Albany this year.

“The tax cap was originaly enacted on a non-permanent basis, so there’s going to be debate coming up on whether to make it permanent,” he said.

For the report, Girardin and other researchers used records kept by the state comptroller’s office.

“These dusty books — we literally had to blow dust off them,” he said.

The books detail taxes set by every school district, as well as municipalities.

He chose to focus on school districts because residents directly vote on school budgets, he said.

For municipal budgets, residents vote for representatives who vote on the budget.

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