Court again rejects tax cap lawsuit

ALBANY- For the second time an attempt by the state’s teachers union to get New York’s property-tax cap tossed was rejected in New York State Supreme Court.

Supreme Court Judge Patrick McGrath of Albany previously rejected the lawsuit by the New York State United Teachers union in September 2014. The union had sued over the tax cap in 2013, claiming it is unconstitutional. The union then resubmitted its objections based on a law last year to toughen the tax cap by providing a rebate to homeowners whose local schools and municipalities stayed within the cap.

“In the present matter, there is little doubt that the credit is designed to influence voters to stay within the cap,” McGrath wrote in an 11-page decision dated March 16. “However, this does not render the law unconstitutional.”

The law that was enacted in 2011 places limits on annual property-tax increases of 2 percent or the rate of inflation which ever is lower, in school districts and local governments.

The union argued the cap unlawfully limits local control over education spending and challenged whether the 60 percent vote needed to override the cap violates the state constitution’s guarantee of equal protection under the law.

New York has among the highest property taxes in the nation.

“Taxpayers prevailed today as yet another meritless special interest lawsuit that sought to undo the progress made under Governor Cuomo failed in the courts,” Cuomo spokesman Richard Azzopardi said in a statement.

In a statement, NYSUT spokesman Carl Korn said the union is already preparing an appeal.

McGrath’s decision came as lawmakers and Cuomo negotiate a state budget for the fiscal year that begins April 1.

The tax cap is set to expire in 2016, but the cap’s expiration date would automatically be extended if Cuomo and lawmakers approve an extension to rent-control regulations, which are due to lapse this year with Cuomo has proposing making it permanent.

Author: Harlem Valley News