Tax cap: 4 Westchester districts will seek override

Written by Joseph Spector | Albany Bureau Chief
May 9, 2013 |

ALBANY — A mere 4 percent of school districts will try to get voter approval to override the state’s property-tax cap, data released Thursday from the state Education Department showed.

Only 28 of the 669 school districts who filed their budgetproposals with the state said they would seek the approval of 60 percent of voters to override the tax cap, the records showed.

Last year, in the first year of the cap, about 50 districts sought an override and nearly 20 failed to win approval from voters. If a budget fails twice, a district can’t increase their tax levy at all.

“The cost of failing to get your budget approved is huge,” said Robert Lowry, deputy director of state Council of School Superintendents.

The districts seeking an override are mainly from Long Island and Westchester County, including the wealthy districts of Scarsdale, Briarcliff Manor, Ardsley and Irvington. Officials in Ardsley and Irvington said they hoped that if they could grow their tax levies for one year, it would allow them to raise more revenue in the future under the tax cap. The cap is a percentage of the base tax levy.


The average tax-levy increase planned for next year among school districts in Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties is 3 percent. The average spending increase is 3.7 percent.

Briarcliff Manor, which is looking to override its cap, plans to reduce overall spending for the fourth straight year.