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August 14, 2013

District sets 2013-14 tax rates

Rates lower than voter-approved levy increase

The Board of Education set 2013-14 tax rates for each of the four towns in the district at its August 13 meeting. As the result of final municipal assessment levels, the tax rate increase for each town is less than the 3.95 percent tax levy increase in the budget voters approved in June.

The following rates are for residential property in each town, which will be reflected in the tax bills that will be mailed in the next few weeks. Tax rates are expressed per $1,000 of assessed property value.

Niskayuna: $18.34 per $1,000 (increase of 2.93%)

Glenville: $20.71 per $1,000 (decrease of 0.02%)

Colonie: $28.54 per $1,000 (increase of 2.09%)

Clifton Park: $34.07 per $1,000 (increase of 2.98%)

Based on the final tax rates, a property with an assessed value of $250,000 in the town of Niskayuna would pay about $4,585 in school taxes this year prior to any savings through the state's School Tax Relief Program, known as STAR. This is an increase of $130.

The tax rates vary because property in each of the towns is assessed at different levels in relation to full market value. After the towns submit final assessment information to the state Office of Real Property Services each summer, the state assigns each community an equalization rate to account for these differences in assessment practices.

Equalization rates indicate the ratio of assessed value to market value in a town. The equalization process is designed to fairly apportion the total tax levy between the towns and result in similar tax bills for properties with similar values - regardless of municipality.

Based on the equalization rates in the four towns, a home with an equalized market value of $250,000, would have a school tax bill ranging from $4,919 to $5,013 - a difference of less than $100 across the four towns.

The district does not control any part of the assessment or equalization process.

Tax bills will be mailed by September 1 and are due by September 30, 2013 without penalty.

Tax rate increases lower than levy increase

Tax rates are different from the tax levy, which is the total amount to be collected from all property taxpayers. The district's levy increase of 3.95 percent for 2013-14 remains unchanged from the voter-approved budget.

The tax rate increased by 2.93 percent in Niskayuna, 2.09 percent in Colonie, and 2.98 percent in Clifton Park. In Glenville, tax rates are going down by a fraction - about a penny per $1,000 of assessed value or -0.02 percent.

The tax rate increases are less than the 3.95 percent tax levy increase because of commercial assessment growth in Niskayuna. This resulted in a shift of some of the tax levy away from residential taxpayers.

A decline in market values in Glenville, reflected in a change in the equalization rate from 92 to 95, resulted in a decreased share of the tax levy for the town. This explains why the tax rate stayed relatively flat in Glenville.

Homestead Tax Rates (Residential)

Tax rates expressed per $1,000 of assessed property value
Town 2012-13 Tax Rate 2013-14 Tax Rate Difference $ Difference %
Niskayuna $17.82 $18.34 $0.52 2.93%
Glenville $20.72 $20.71 -$0.01 -0.02%
Colonie $27.96 $28.54 $0.58 2.09%
Clifton Park $33.09 $34.07 $0.98 2.98%

Non-Homestead Tax Rates (Commercial)
Tax rates expressed per $1,000 of assessed property value
Town 2012-13 Tax Rate 2013-14 Tax Rate Difference $ Difference %
Niskayuna $23.38 $24.25 $0.87 3.73%
Glenville $27.11 $26.92 -$0.19 -0.71%
Colonie $37.83 $38.22 $0.39 1.04%
Clifton Park $43.00 $44.09 $1.09 2.53%

STAR Program

The New York State School Tax Relief Program known as STAR is still in effect, although some changes to the program in recent years will impact 2013-14 school tax bills. STAR generally works by exempting a certain amount of a property owners' assessed value for the purposes of their school tax bill. Enhanced STAR is for senior citizens with incomes below a certain level; Basic STAR applies to owner-occupied homes.

The state has established a 2 percent cap on the annual increase in the actual dollar value of the STAR exemption for each property owner. Previously, STAR savings were calculated simply by multiplying the amount of exempt property by the tax rate - with no limitations on how much it could grow from year-to-year.

The state has also recently established an upper income limit for STAR eligibility of $500,000.

Another STAR change - Basic STAR re-enrollment for 2014

In the 2014 exemption year, Basic STAR recipients will have to re-apply for the exemption. This is part of an effort to identify inappropriate or fraudulent STAR exemptions and protect state taxpayers from the costs associated with them. Current Basic STAR recipients will be mailed a notice about this process prior to the deadline. The re-application requirement will not apply to the tax bills that are coming due in September 2013.

For STAR eligibility information, exemption amounts, enrollment information and FAQs, visit the New York State Office of Real Property Services' website,

Tax cap applies to the levy

This is the second year that tax bills will be sent out after the implementation of the state's property tax cap. The tax cap applies to the tax levy and not the tax rates. The law requires a multi-part calculation that determines a district's tax levy limit. The district's limit this past year was 4.66 percent, meaning that the 3.95 percent increase that voters approved in the June re-vote was below this threshold.