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Long IslandPoliticsSpin Cycle

Senate tells mayors, schools: No break in tax cap expected

State Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan said Monday

State Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan said Monday that he doesn't expect any changes this year in the property tax cap. Photo Credit: Craig Ruttle

ALBANY — Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan said Monday that he doesn’t expect any changes this year in the property tax cap that is vexing school districts and many municipalities.

“It is immensely popular with the public,” Flanagan (R-East Northport) told the New York Conference of Mayors. “I would be surprised if there were any changes to the tax cap this year.”

He offered the assessment to the mayors knowing it wouldn’t be received well. Many school district and local officials say the tax cap, created by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and the legislature, is forcing them to adopt austerity budgets that they say hurt students and public services.

The law requires school districts and municipalities to keep their property tax growth at less than 2 percent each year, unless the cap is overridden locally in a politically dicey vote. School districts need to get approval from a supermajority of voters to approve higher taxes or a supermajority of a village, town or city, or county legislators must cast votes to suspend the property tax cap.

Although it’s called a 2-percent cap, the law uses a formula that includes the inflation rate to determine the precise cap each year. Now that cap is near 1 percent. A mayor pressed Flanagan in a question-and-answer session and said the cap is hurting the delivery of local services from snow plowing to street repair.

“The points you are raising are starting to come up in our conference,” Flanagan said.

But he noted many in his Republican majority support the cap as a way to reduce some of the nation’s highest property taxes, led by those on Long Island. Flanagan also noted the tax cap is a signature policy of Cuomo, and he has no intention of weakening it.

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