Senator Saland Announces Passage Of His Legislation To Reduce School Property Taxes

Stephen M. Saland

June 12, 2007

Senator Steve Saland (R,I,C Poughkeepsie) has announced passage of a new proposal, S.5998A, designed to reduce real property taxes by requiring the State to assume a school district’s contribution to pension costs. School districts would then be required to lower their property tax levy by a comparable amount. The entire Senate Majority has joined Senator Saland in cosponsoring this measure.

"The demand for real property tax relief has dominated the public’s interest for the last several years," said Senator Saland. "I promised the tax payers of my district that I would continue to seek real property tax relief and this measure will effectively deliver real savings to each and every property tax payer."

School districts are required by law to contribute to employee pension costs. While the amount of the contribution can vary due to fluctuating market conditions, the expense often constitutes a significant portion of a school district’s budget. By directing the State to assume the entire employer share of pension costs over a three year period, school districts will be responsible for delivering a comparable reduction in the local tax levy.

"Local property tax payers will no longer be required to shoulder the burden of a school district’s pension costs. This bill removes a costly mandate and simultaneously provides billions of dollars statewide in local tax relief," explained Senator Saland. "Unlike the original STAR program, this bill ensures that property tax payers will directly benefit through a reduction in their tax levy. This is one of the most important property tax relief measures proposed this year."

"The benefit to school districts is that it will have a dramatic impact on lowering school districts’ tax levies. I would think that would help to increase public support for school district budgets. It appears that this would be the first substantive move to shift the property tax burden to income tax," said Joseph Phelan, Superintendent of the Rhinebeck Central School District.

"This bill will phase in approximately $2.6 billion in local tax relief. When fully phased in after three years, it will provide tax relief in excess of that provided by the current STAR Rebate Program that I announced in December of 2005. The combined direct tax relief will total $4 billion," Saland continued.

While Senator Saland’s bill provides tax relief, real reform of the property tax system is a necessity and he continues to aggressively seek reform. Among the bills sponsored by Senator Saland, which have already passed the Senate, is a bill to establish a Blue Ribbon Commission on Property Tax Reform to examine alternatives to using the current property tax system in New York.

"Relief measures definitely benefit taxpayers in the short term but the long term answer is reform of the property tax system. I am hopeful my bills will be the catalyst for real change and I call upon the Governor and the Assembly to finally take this issue seriously and join me to relieve the property tax burden on hardworking New Yorkers -- the time is now," Senator Saland added.