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Tax Cap Legislation a Concern in Chappaqua

While students and teachers wind down the end of the school year and Horace Greeley seniors prepare for graduation Sunday, school administrators in Chappaqua and throughout Westchester are crunching numbers trying to figure out how they will pay the bills next year.

“It is clear that taxpayers in Westchester are in need of property tax relief,” said Adam Yuro, president of the Bedford Teachers’ Association. “However, A-7916 and S-2706 tax cap bills will limit the ability of school districts to provide a quality education and impair the ability for districts to close the student achievement gap in New York. “

The proposed law would cap property taxes, preventing them from increasing by more than a few percentage points, with the goal of relieving the tax burden on Westchester homeowners, who pay among the highest property taxes in the country.

“Chappaqua has been actively working to address the escalating costs inherent in our operation,” said the Chappaqua Board of Education in an e-mail. “Budget-to-budget increases have been limited to 0%, 1.9%, and 1.88% in the last three years. However, districts must cover many expenses out of our control including the numerous unfunded mandates imposed by New York State.”

Local property taxpayers have carried an increasing share of the burden to fund school district budgets, as the state has cut its state aid contribution nearly every year. At the same time, school districts must follow expensive state mandates for items such as special education, teacher pensions and other benefits where costs continue to rise.

“I agree and support the tax cap legislation in its structure,” said State Assemblyman Robert Castelli, who represents the 89th District. “Some find issue with the details of the bill. The bigger issue which has yet to be addressed is the unfunded mandates. These mandates are what can really provide relief to these communities.”

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