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Gov. Cuomo’s Property Tax Cap Met With Stiff Resistance From Teachers

Albany's Plan Would Call For No More Than A 2% Jump Annually
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School Desks - File / Photo: Ian Waldie/Getty Images

School Desks – File / Photo: Ian Waldie/Getty Images

jennifermclogan Jennifer McLogan
Jennifer McLogan returned to WCBS-TV in 1993 to cover Long Island...
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MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – Are we on the verge of a “new” New York?

It’s a “game-changing” promise from Albany — a historic deal that could cap ballooning property taxes.

New York’s first property tax cap would be among the most stringent in the nation. Homeowners and business owners are saluting Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan for relief, but outraged teachers are complaining our children will suffer, reports CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan.

It’s no secret that suburban homeowners are taxed to the hilt. On Long Island many are moving away, unable to afford skyrocketing property taxes, which are among the highest anywhere. In fact, Nassau County is ranked No. 1 in the nation, with the median household exceeding $8,000 a year.

When they screamed for relief at the polls on Super Tuesday, the governor said he was listening to the people.

The new deal that has been reached would limit tax hikes to 2 percent annually. Albany is calling it a game changer and the Long Island Business Council agrees. Richard Bivone said a tax cap would plug the hole of businesses leaving New York.

Bivone said he welcomes the cap.

“Definitely. Long Island is collapsing under the weight of taxes right now,” Bivone said.

But school boards and teachers are outraged. They say they’ve already cut back and laid off and that a cap would erode arts, sports and special programs, and hurt poorer and rural districts, which are more dependent on state aid than rich ones with greater property wealth.

Richard Iannuzzi, president of New York State United Teachers, said the cap would devastate the schools.

“We’re in a time now where the state has pulled back on its responsibility to fund schools. It really is a necessity for local school districts to be able to raise the funds to meet the needs that the state’s abandoning,” Iannuzzi tells WCBS 880 reporter Catherine Cioffi.

Iannuzzi said he believes that what the state should do is remove from localities the burden for raising the funds.

WCBS 880’s Catherine Cioffi: Cuomo Says Property Tax Cap Would Be A Game Changer

Eastern Suffolk BOCES said a cap means fracturing the future of the most vulnerable students.

“We believe the funding formulas that have been in place have shortchanged Long Island over the years, especially the low-wealth districts,” BOCES Chief Operating Officer Gary Bixhorn said.

Andrea Vecchio, an East Islip taxpayer activist, said she has a solution to help poorer districts: spread the wealth from commercial properties by equally distributing those tax revenues to all school districts.

“Why don’t we think about consolidating the tax base for businesses county-wide so that everyone gets a share?” Vecchio said.

The proposed property tax cap must be approved by the State Legislature and wouldn’t go into effect until 2012.

There would be exceptions to the 2 percent cap, and it would have to be renewed at the same time as rent-control laws. It could be overridden with 60 percent of a local school district vote.

Do you think this is a good idea? Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below.

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