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Pataki unveils STAR program

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Albany/HV: Pataki unveils STAR program
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Under the new $600 million "STAR-Plus" property tax relief plan, homeowners would receive a $400 tax rebate. While the Governor says the program has been a success since it was enacted in 1997, there needed to be changes because of increased spending by school districts which resulted in property tax hikes.

“Over the last five years you've seen your STAR benefits reduced, not in dollar terms but in comparison to what the total tax school bill is. Costs go up every year. Inflation continues every year. School districts spend more every year, but the STAR Program did not change. The STAR program was not indexed for inflation, and we said that's not right,” said Governor Pataki.

School districts will be asked to cap their spending growth to four percent or 120 percent of inflation. Homeowners will in turn get a $400 check, and the districts will get a two percent bonus in State Flex Aid for the following school year.

“I'll definitely continue to work with you during this next budget cycle to make sure people get these STAR benefits, the enhanced STAR benefits,” said Senator John DeFrancisco.

Local leaders say easing the property tax burden will keep people in Central New York and bring others back to the area.

“I am a big believer in recapturing our youth and getting them back here, and this is going to make that possible. So many people want to come back. So many people want to stay here, but we need to make it affordable,” said Jeff Brown.

This year the average senior will save nearly $1,100, and the average homeowner will save about $700.

If there are increases in enrollment or capital projects, school districts will be exempt from the spending cap.

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