As schools across Niagara County begin in earnest putting their school budgets together, the Niagara USA Chamber is urging them to stay within the state's property tax cap. The county's leading business organization has said it will publicly and actively oppose any budget that exceeds the cap.
"The integrity of the property tax cap must be maintained," said Kory Schuler, director of government affairs for the Niagara USA Chamber. "We understand that districts are challenged and we support their efforts to get relief from costly state mandates, which is highly important. But asking overburdened taxpayers to cough up more beyond the tax cap is not the right answer."
Schuler said all budgets that eventually passed in Niagara County last year stayed under the tax cap, with Niagara-Wheatfield failing on its initial effort to exceed the cap last year.
"Although it wasn't easy, school districts met the challenge last year and we congratulate them for that," he said. "But, long-term, we need to consider structural changes, shared services, regionalization, consolidation and any other option that will lower operating costs while maintaining quality schools. That will not happen if districts simply go beyond the cap."
With that in mind, Schuler said the chamber is prepared to lead a strong advocacy charge against any budget that exceeds the cap.
"We have shown over the years that we can mobilize our member companies, their employees and the public at-large to take action on important issues," he said. "If we have to urge people to vote against a school budget, we are prepared to do that."