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Sound Shore Residents Torn on Property Tax Cap

The New York State Assembly's proposal to set a 2 percent cap on property taxes is like to be voted on Tuesday and the ripple effects if it passes recently drew the fire of the Mamaroneck Board of Education.

Communities along the sound shore seem torn between a break in their tax burden and losing some services that would be affected by the proposed cap. The Mamaroneck Board of Education recently noted cap limits might hurt local school districts and effect public education across the state.

"I think they've created a monster, and if the budget and the spending were more transparent, people wouldn't mind feeding the monster," said Steve Keltz, a Larchmont resident.

The legislation, introduced by speaker Sheldon Silver on May 24, would limit the annual growth of local property taxes, which have outpaced the inflation rate during the last 10 years by more than double, according to the Empire Center For New York State Policy's position paper, "The Case for a Cap."

One criticism of the plan is that the cap might be a temporary solution and that rejiggering how taxes are spent across the board might be a better solution with longer-lasting and sustainable impact.

The New York State Council of School Superintendants estimate that increases in pensions and health insurance will require more than a 4 percent tax hike for the 2012-2013 school year, when this legislation would go into affect. Under this proposal, such a tax increase would require 60 percent or more of voters to approve it, as opposed to 50 percent for increases under two percent.

"I like the idea of a property tax cap," said Diane Madeline, a Mamaroneck resident. "But, they have to find a way to off set it."

Madeline suggested combining services to cut any excess, while the New York State School Boards Association has called for mandate relief and reform in various employee commitments, like pensions and health care costs to be included in the legislation.

"I think that if the government spends wisely, they should have the money that they need," Keltz said.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo passed the bill in the State Senate on January 27. If the bill passes the State Assembly, all school districts serving populations less than 125,000 would be affected.

Do you support the tax cap? Let us know in the comment section below.

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