Nassau County has introduced an online "school property tax calculator" to help homeowners estimate their October tax bills in response to the "sticker shock" some residents experienced last year because of a steep rise in tax rates.
Falling house values and successful assessment protests helped push up residential school tax rates in some communities by more than 20 percent, leading to property tax increases of thousands of dollars for some homeowners whose assessments had remained stable or increased.
Despite a state cap on district tax levys of about 2 percent, the average school tax rate across Nassau increased by an average 11.7 percent in October because of assessment changes within each district, Newsday reported then.
If assessed values drop, tax rates must increase to bring in the same amount of money. If one homeowner pays less in school taxes because of a lowered assessment, neighbors have to pay more to make up the loss.
"Over the years, I have found that too many homeowners were surprised to learn that the percentage of school taxes they had to pay in October was often higher than the percentage of budget increase they approved in May," acting Nassau County Assessor Jim Davis said in a news release.
The calculator "was created to give homeowners a reasonable estimate of this year's school tax rates as well as their projected individual tax obligation, so that they can see how school spending plans will truly impact their wallets."
Homeowners can plug their home's assessed value and school district name into the online calculator -- nassaucountyny.gov/estschooltax -- to get an estimate of their school tax bills.