Manhattan Institute for Policy Research. 05/2005.

School Taxes Skyward
May 12, 2005

School districts across New York want to increase their spending at more than twice the rate of inflation, according to the Public Policy Institute's Annual School Tax Watch. And despite a record aid increase of nearly $900 million in the new state budget, proposed school property taxes would rise even faster.

Money grafs (from the Institute's news release):

Per-pupil spending would rise to an average $15,411, an increase of 6.2 percent, in the 672 school districts that have submitted budget data to the state Education Department. Property taxes per student would increase 7.1 percent, the Institute found. Inflation in New York State is projected at 2.7 percent for 2005.

Overall spending would rise by more than $1.6 billion statewide under the proposed budgets, with about $1 billion of that coming from increases in school taxes. Enrollment is expected to rise, on average, by 0.3 percent.

To get an idea of how excessive the school spending hikes have become in some regions of the state, consider this story from today's Westchester Journal News. It seems that, with a proposed budget that would grow at just under 7 percent next year (compared to a statewide inflation rate of 2.7 percent), the Peekskill School District is calling for the second lowest spending increase of all school systems in Westchester County. But at the same time, the district is seeking a property tax rate hike of nearly 12 percent.

School budget approval rates have generally been high (in generally low-turnout voting) around the state in recent years. Will New Yorkers continue to sit still for such large increases in what is, after all, the biggest portion of their local property tax bills? We'll get an answer next Tuesday, May 17 -- when 700 districts across the state elect school board members and vote on school budgets.