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For Release — Sunday, May 17, 1998

MANY SCHOOL DISTRICTS ARE RESTRAINING TAXES — BUT OTHERS KEEP RAISING THEM, STUDY SHOWS

Editors/reporters: Attached are tables showing the largest per-student tax increases and decreases for school districts in various size categories. For data on all districts in your region, contact The Public Policy Institute at the above number.

ALBANY — More than 300 school districts in New York State raised per-student taxes by more than the inflation rate from 1995 to 1996, while 115 districts were able to reduce per-student tax collections, a new study by The Public Policy Institute shows.

Fully 318 districts increased taxes by more than 3.2 percent during the year, according to the Institute's analysis of data made available recently by the Office of the State Comptroller. Another 224 districts raised tax collections during the year, but by less than the inflation rate, the Institute said. The 3.2 percent level represents the federal government's official estimate of inflation for state and local government services from 1995 to 1996.

The Institute, the research affiliate of The Business Council of New York State Inc., examined data for the 657 school districts outside New York City that have total enrollment of more than 250 students. Its study is part of a continuing "School Tax Watch" announced by the Institute last year. School districts report the data to the Office of the State Comptroller, which publishes the numbers annually.

Under legislation enacted last year, residents of school districts across the state will vote on proposed school budgets Tuesday, May 19.

For all the districts studied, total school tax collections rose 4.2 percent from 1995 to 1996. With enrollment increasing by some 21,000 over the year, per-student tax collections increased by 3.0 percent—slightly less than the estimated inflation rate for government services.

The relative restraint in school tax increases occurred despite little change in state aid. After adjusting for increased enrollment, total state aid to school districts outside New York City dropped by a fraction of 1 percent for the year.

Some of the districts with the largest tax increases per pupil also enjoyed significant increases in state aid per pupil—but others experienced reductions in state aid per pupil.

Per-student tax collections in 1996 averaged $5,548 for all the districts studied, compared to $5,388 in 1995, according to the data reported by the Office of the State Comptroller. State aid to schools in 1996 averaged $3,864 per student; that was down $2 per student from the previous year.

Per-student taxes in individual districts ranged from a low of $455 in Indian River School District (Jefferson County), to $18,983 in Port Jefferson Union Free School District (Suffolk County).

Districts outside New York City collected a total of $9.3 billion in property taxes in 1996. Some 178 districts also collect revenue from local sales or utility taxes, totaling $212 million in 1996.

New York State's per-pupil spending for elementary and secondary schools is the third-highest in the country. Figures reported by the National Education Association show New York schools spent an average of $8,564 per student in 1997, 46 percent above the national average.

The Business Council is New York's largest broad-based business group, representing over 4,000 member companies large and small across the state. Based in Albany, it lobbies for a better business climate, and offers cost-cutting services to its members.

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Table 1:
Change in School Taxes in Districts Outside New York City With 10,000+ Students, 1995-96
Table 2:
Largest Tax Increases Among School Districts Outside New York City With 2,500-9,999 Students, 1995-96
Table 3:
Largest Tax Reductions Among School Districts Outside New York City With 2,500-9,999 Students, 1995-96

 

Table 4:
Largest Tax Increases Among School Districts Outside New York City With 1,000-2,499 Students, 1995-96
Table 5:
Largest Tax Reductions Among School Districts Outside New York City With 1,000-2,499 Students, 1995-96
Table 6:
Largest Tax Increases Among School Districts Outside New York City With 250-999 Students, 1995-96
Table 7:
Largest Tax Reductions Among School Districts Outside New York City With 250-999 Students, 1995-96

Complete Listing of School Districts