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Back to Communications Home

School taxes going down for Albany homeowners

ALBANY, N.Y. (Aug. 19, 2011) -- School taxes are going down this year for Albany homeowners for the first time in 11 years following efforts from the city and school district to ease the tax burden on residents in these difficult economic times.

 

The City School District of Albany Board of Education voted Aug. 18 to approve a 2011 tax rate that is 0.65 percent lower than last year for homeowners. For homeowners with the Basic STAR exemption, the rate will decrease 1.32 percent and with Enhanced STAR for seniors the rate will go down 2.45 percent.

 

Board President Daniel Egan praised the teamwork that contributed to the reduced school tax rate on the part of the board, the city and Mayor Gerald D. Jennings, and the district’s teachers. The Albany Public School Teachers’ Association voted in May to approve a new five-year contract that includes a pay freeze for the 2011-12 school year. The district's administrators worked under a pay freeze during the 2010-11 school year, and Superintendent Raymond Colucciello, Ed.D., has agreed to a 2011-12 contract that freezes his salary for the third consecutive year with no benefits from the district.

 

“This was a team effort on our community's behalf,” Egan said. “We worked together as a board, and in partnership with Mayor Jennings and our teachers, to produce some much-needed tax relief for our residents while maintaining strong programs for all students. We will continue to work together as we look ahead to what we know will be another difficult year in the face of state funding challenges and the new cap on property taxes.”

 

Mayor Jennings said the 2011 school tax rate is "illustrative of what can be accomplished when all concerned work collaboratively and cooperatively.”

 

 “I want to thank the leadership of the city school district, the Board of Education and district teachers for their respective sacrifices in order to achieve these savings, and, most importantly, for their continued commitment to educating the youth of our city," he said. "This tax reduction is truly a ‘win-win’ for our residents.”

 

There are three components that determine the school tax rate annually:

  • The district’s tax levy (the total amount of money the district collects through local property taxes)

  • The city’s assessment data

  • The state’s STAR program.

 

This year, the school district’s tax levy will remain the same ($107,113,370) after voters in May approved a $206.5 budget. It’s the first time the tax levy has remained flat since Albany’s school budget first was put up for a public vote in 1996. The decline in the school tax rate came as a result of changes in the City of Albany’s property assessments and an increase in the state’s contribution to the STAR program. School taxes are separate from Albany Public Library taxes even though they appear on the same bill.

 

Estimated school tax bill for a home assessed at $150,000*

 

2011 tax rate per thousand dollars of assessed value

Estimated

2011 bill

Decrease

Without STAR

$19.11

$2,866.18

0.65%

($18.66)

With Basic STAR

$19.11

$2,270.40

1.32%

($30.36)

With Enhanced   Star for seniors

$19.11

$1,672.70

2.45%

($42.04)

          *Does not include Albany Public Library taxes, which appear on the school tax bill but are separate.

 

“The decrease in our school tax rate reflects our board’s continued focus on raising achievement for all of our more than 8,500 students while providing the best possible education that our community can afford,” Dr. Colucciello said.

 

The district will continue its efforts to contain and reduce costs while focusing on providing the best possible programs for all students, Dr. Colucciello said. Since the end of the 2008-09 school year, the district has eliminated 23 percent of its administrative staff and 14 percent of its total staff (about 250 positions). The district also has consolidated or closed five buildings over the last three years:

 

  • Philip Livingston Magnet Academy (315 Northern Blvd.; currently for sale)

  • Alternative Learning Center (27 Western Ave.; sold for private development)

  • Former Public School 17 (43 Second Ave., sold for private development)

  • Central Registration Office (Sunshine Building in Lincoln Park; relocated to the former Harriet Gibbons High School building, 75 Watervliet Ave.)

  • Buildings and Grounds headquarters (270 Central Ave.; relocated to the former Harriet Gibbons High School building, 75 Watervliet Ave.)

 

The district's state aid for 2011-12 included $544,000 in recognition of its administrative efficiency. Additional cost-saving initiatives in the last three years have included:

  • Reorganization of food services with $400,000 in annual savings
  • Prescription medication
    • Implementation of CanaRX with $250,000 in annual savings
    • Renegotiated fees and rebates with $17,000 in savings
  • Energy savings
    • $500,000 in annual savings through building consolidations and new electrical bidding
    • Ongoing energy projects to provide greater efficiency and reduce expenses
  • Renegotiation of fuel contract for buses
  • Restructuring internal audit functions and re-bidding external audit services with $200,000 in savings over three years

 

The mission of the City School District of Albany is to educate and nurture all students to be responsible citizens, critical thinkers and lifelong learners to successfully compete in the global community by providing an academically rigorous and safe environment in partnership with parents, students and the community. The district serves nearly 8,600 students in 15 elementary, middle and high schools. In addition to neighborhood schools, the district includes several magnet schools and programs, as well as other innovative academic opportunities for students.

         
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