New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer last week announced appointments to a commission to develop a school property tax cap.

Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi will head the commission that must make preliminary recommendations by May 15 and final recommendations by Dec. 1.

The seven-member body includes a public finance banker, Merrill Lynch & Co. director Michael Solomon. Solomon helped create the first revolving fund program for schools in the nation to finance projects in Michigan.

Spitzer first announced his proposal for a cap intended to boost the economy in his state of the state speech earlier this month.

The cap would make it “possible for folks to live here by keeping costs down and by having an economic environment where the cost of living in New York State is not such that we are losing either businesses or families,” Spitzer said at a press conference.

Spitzer said that despite increases in state education aid and more than $5 billion in tax breaks through New York’s school tax relief program, local property tax growth has not slowed. “The measures we have taken thus far have not been sufficient,” he said.

School taxes across the state from 2002 to 2005 outpaced inflation, increasing between 7.6% and 8.1% annually, according to a report released in November by Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. School taxes rose 6.8% in 2005 and 5.9% in 2007, the report said.

Spitzer charged the commission with finding a way to limit school property tax growth without having an adverse impact on education.

The other commission are Basil A. Paterson, a partner at Meyer, Suozzi, English & Klein PC who previously was New York’s secretary of state, a state senator, and a commissioner at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey; former Onondaga County Executive Nicholas J. Pirro; former Assembly member Paul A. Tokasz; State Board of Regents member Merryl H. Tisch; and State University of New York-Stony Brook president Shirley Strum Kenny.


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