Huntington school officials eye tax base growth

Huntington school officials eye tax base growth

Projections could mean scaled back tax rate next year

Huntington school board members attend a town board meeting last year. File photo by Rohma Abbas

Huntington school district taxpayers could see a little extra cash in their wallets next year, if tentative numbers projecting a greater tax base pan out, the district said this week.

School officials announced on Tuesday that the total value of all its assessed properties is expected to rise in 2015-16 by just under one percent — from about $44.8 million this year to $45.3 million in 2015-16. The district cited figures from an April 30 letter it received from Huntington Town Assessor Roger Ramme.

That projection is also significantly higher than an estimate officials used to craft next year’s proposed $120.3 million budget, which district residents will weigh in on in a vote on May 19. If that budget is approved and the hike in assessed valuation becomes a reality, then taxpayers could see an estimated tax increase of just .83 percent, instead of the 2.27 percent officials estimated.

“The tentative spike in assessed valuation translates into good news for taxpayers,” Superintendent Jim Polansky said in a statement on the district’s website. “It can be attributed to a number of factors, not the least of which is an increase in fully taxed properties within district boundaries. While we expect some downward adjustment between now and the fall board meeting during which the tax rate is set, we anticipate that it will be considerably lower than initially projected.”

The assessed valuation won’t be concluded until the fall, and it’s likely the assessed valuation will slip from now until then, when the tax rate is set, the district noted. But if the assessed valuation is finalized at an amount that’s greater than what was used to develop the 2015-16 budget, the school board, “would be in a position to reduce the earlier projected tax rate increase, appropriate less money from the district’s fund balance or some combination of the two,” according to the statement.

This wouldn’t be the first year Huntington school district enjoyed a greater-than-budgeted assessed valuation.

“Trustees have a long history of returning to residents, through a lower tax rate, any increased revenues the district derives from a late-breaking rise in assessed valuation,” according to the district. “That tradition is
expected to continue in the fall, should the tentative increase hold in
large part.”

Town officials could not immediately be reached for comment on Wednesday.