By Jann Wiswall
Residents of the Ellicottville Central School (ECS) District voted on May 20 to approve a 1.3 percent increase to the 2014-15 school year budget. While we won’t know until July what the actual dollar increase to school tax bills will be (the county does the calculations after all assessment data are in), we do know that any increase will be refunded to most district homeowners in the fall.
This refund is a result of the property tax freeze credit passed by the New York State legislature for the 2014-15 budget year. Any homeowner with a STAR or Enhanced STAR exemption — in other words, residents whose primary residences are in the district — will receive a refund check for the total amount of the increase.
This rebate will not be coming to all school districts across the state. Only those districts that stayed within the 2 percent tax cap are eligible. Ellicottville stayed within the tax cap.
According to the State Division of Budget, the following eligibility criteria must be met:
• Residential property owners that are eligible for a STAR exemption on their primary residence are eligible for the rebate.
• The school district must comply with the property tax levy limit including exclusions (maximum allowable levy) in 2014-15.
• Eligible property owners will receive the credit via rebate checks issued by the NYS Tax and Finance Department in autumn of 2014.
• Rebates reimburse homeowners for the dollar increases in their school tax bills.
• In 2014, for homeowners in a tax freeze compliant district, the rebate credit will be equal to the 2014-15 increase in school taxes OR 1.46 percent times the 2013-14 school tax bill, whichever is greater.
An example provided by the state explains it this way:
Suppose your 2013-14 tax bill was $2,500 and your 2014-15 bill is $2,550.
That’s an increase of $50.
1.46 percent multiplied by the 2013-14 tax bill comes to $36.50.
So, the homeowner will be rebated for the greater amount, or $50.
Remember, you will be billed for and will have to pay the full amount on your tax bill by its due date. But come mid-fall, STAR-eligible homeowners will get a refund check in the mail.