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November 7, 2007

DiNapoli: Growth in School Property Taxes
Continues to Outpace Inflation

State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli today released a report on school property tax levies across New York State that found school taxes continue to outstrip inflation, increasing between 7.6 and 8.1 percent annually from 2002 to 2005 before moderating somewhat in 2006 to 6.8 percent and 5.9 percent in 2007. The report also found that local property taxpayers’ share of education costs continues to outpace the state’s share of costs.

“Property tax growth continues to outpace inflation,” DiNapoli said. “And local taxpayers continue to contribute more to education than the state does. All this pressure on homeowners highlights the need to make sure that every dollar spent on education is spent effectively. At every level, from the state on down to the local school board, we should be looking at ways save money and still provide the best possible education for our students.”

School districts are the largest single sector of local government in New York State, accounting for nearly half of all local government revenues and 62 percent of all property taxes levied outside of New York City. In 2005, school districts outside of New York City received 55 percent of their revenue from property tax revenue, totaling $15.5 billion.

Wealthier schools districts rely more heavily on property tax revenue; 31 districts received 90 percent or more of their revenues from property taxes, 25 of which are located on Long Island. In addition, outstanding debt for school districts tripled in the last decade, totaling nearly $16 billion across the state, excluding New York City.

The report looked at school district finances, including revenue and expenditure data for school years ending in 2005, the latest data available. The report also included property tax levy data from 2006 and 2007. Additional data for those years is not yet available.

Local data for the state’s 45 largest school districts is included in the report.

In order to improve fiscal accountability of the state’s schools, DiNapoli’s office will audit all of New York’s 832 school districts, Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) and charter schools by 2010. The State Comptroller’s office has completed nearly 300 school audits and approximately 235 audits are currently underway.

Click here for a copy of the report.



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