Administrators concerned school budgets won't pass due to SALT changes

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WANTAGH -

There are only three Long Island school districts looking to pierce the cap, but there are concerns that voters will not approve school budgets this year.

Herb Wright, of Wantagh, says his rising tax bill is becoming too much to bear. That's one of the reasons he says he's planning to vote against his local school budget.

This year, Long Islanders are feeling the impact of changes to the federal tax law that capped state and local tax, or SALT, deductions at $10,000. The fallout became most evident for many as they filed their income tax returns.

Later this month, school districts across Long Island will ask voters to approve budget plans for next year. It's the largest portion of a typical property tax bill. A state cap, based on a formula, is in place but varies by district.

Wyandanch, Eastport-South Manor and Wainscott are seeking to pierce the cap this year. Nearly every district is proposing a tax increase of some kind, and some fear voter backlash stemming from the SALT changes could follow.

Dr. Robert Dillon, of Nassau BOCES, says districts are well-aware of the crunch many are facing.

Some administrators say perhaps the more pressing challenge this year is the presence of unfunded mandates in the form of security upgrades.

Michael Verdi, of Levittown, says while he's feeling the sting of the SALT changes, he'll still support his local schools.

"It makes me leery, but having kids in school, I want them to have everything they should have in school," Verdi said.

A recent Newsday report found that on average, school budgets are expected to increase by about 2.5% next year.

The vote will be held on May 21.

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