Assemblywoman Sandy Galef (95th District – covering the Towns of Cortlandt, Ossining, Kent, Philipstown, Putnam Valley and the City of Peekskill in parts of Westchester and Putnam Counties) recently offered this explanation of the current tax freeze rebate and shared services incentive plan:
“If schools, municipalities and counties (and libraries who raise funds through property taxes) stay within the state-mandated property tax levy cap, New York State has agreed to make sure property taxpayers will pay no more than they did the prior year in municipal, school, or county property taxes.
- In Year One, if these government entities stay within the cap, property taxpayers would receive a check for a tax credit in the mail to bring their increase down to zero.
- In Year Two of the tax freeze, the state requires all municipalities and school districts who want to guarantee their taxpayers receive this same tax credit, to not only stay within the tax levy cap, but also to identify strategies that will result in 1% savings to their budgets in each year of the following three years, by sharing and coordinating services within and between themselves to make government more efficient.
“If your schools and municipalities hold up their part of this bargain, eligible property taxpayers will receive a credit for any increase in property taxes for two straight years.”
A recent news article also provided information on the topic:
Patrick Darfler Sweeney, superintendent of Hunter-Tannersville Central School District in the Cakskills developed a master consolidation plan.
– Redistributing faculty and programs to where the students are actually located, rather than having the burden of physically moving the student body. It’s easier to have 20 teachers move rather than 500 students. This would also allow the board to see exactly what parents are looking for in their child’s education.
– Positions such as pupil service director, athletic director, cafeteria supervisor, facilities director, technology coordinator, transportation director, these are examples of positions that could all be centralized and shared among districts, and the savings would be approximately one-third to one-half the cost of the salaries/benefits
– If the state took over managing health benefits for all school employees in New York, the state would have huge leveraging ability due to the sheer number of people to be covered and would be able to negotiate a more stable and predetermined premium level to be paid by both employees and the school districts.
– I believe an enlarged district could conduct a one-to-one broadcast using free video conferencing (such as Skype or Face Time). Couple that with a teacher using a free platform such as Google Tools and you are facilitating high-tech learning skills, encouraging collaboration, and empowering student-teacher engagement without a huge investment.