WXXI AM News

Brighton school district asks voters to override state property tax cap

May 15, 2019

The Brighton Central School District is proposing a budget that contains a tax levy increase of 4.89 percent, more than twice the property tax cap enacted by the state.

Superintendent Kevin McGowan blames a broken school aid formula, with the state budget providing only half of the aid that is due the district.

As a result, he said, the district is facing an $8 million shortfall.

Credit bcsd.org

“The most comparable district in terms of wealth ratio for us is Penfield. They're receiving 70% of their aid,” McGowan said. “Our neighbors right next door, Pittsford, are receiving 63% of their aid. West Irondequoit, 66%.  If we just simply received 60% of what was due to us, our entire gap would've been made up."

McGowan said the increase is needed to cover debt service related to the facilities improvement plan that voters approved two years ago.

“We did speak about the need to eventually go over the tax cap to be able to pay for that, and this is the year that has to happen,” he said. “We can't begin to pay that debt service without massive cuts to programs if we're restricted by the cap."

McGowan said district spending would be reduced by $1.3 million if the proposal doesn't get the necessary 60% supermajority of voters to approve overriding the cap.

The $89 million proposal, if passed, would result in a tax increase of $266 on a home valued at $220,000.

The school budget goes before voters on May 21st.