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DemocratandChronicle .com Sunday,October18,2015 Page25A In an unlikely twist, Tappan Zee Bridge drivers may owe a big thank you to banks accused of wrongdoing in the nation’s fiscal crisis for saving them f rom what could have been a hefty toll h ike on thespan in the coming years. E arlier this year, the state Thruway Authority modified its own budget and announced that that it would divert some $750 million in bank settlement money to t he $4 billion bridge replacement project. Tucked deep in the new budget is a s izable recalculation in just how much toll revenue the Thruway will need by 2 018, when both four-lane spans are ex- pected to open to traffic, a Journal N ews analysis shows. T hruway officials estimated that, ins tead of the $990 million they said they would need in December, they’d need just $689 million by 2018, thanks in large part to cost cutting and an infu- s ion of cash from New York’s share of t he bank settlement negotiated by the U .S. Justice Department, state figures show. The $1.9 billion budget, approved in May, identified some $66 million in s pending cuts and reduced debt service costs. T he bank settlement money meant STATE WINDFALL MAY CURB TOLL HIKE Analyst says bank settlements, more cars could keep Tappan Zee Bridge fare well below $11 Thomas C. Zambito firstname.lastname@example.org PETER CARR/THE JOURNAL NEWS Cars pull into the Tarrytown toll booths after crossing the Tappan Zee Bridge. SeeTOLL,Page33A Database: Efficiency plans approved, but rebates elusive New York state on Tuesday said it has approved 2,000 efficiency plans submitted by schools and local governments to ensure homeowners receive a property-tax rebate check. The next step is the checks hitting mailboxes. But when that will happen remains a nyone’s guess. T he state Department of Taxation a nd Finance on Wednesday declined t o say when the so-called “property- tax freeze checks” will go out to residents. This year, the checks will be the largest during the three-year program:They will be a refund for the increase in property taxes levied by both schools and municipal governments. The rebate checks will range from $200 upstate and $580 in New York City’s suburbs. In Westchester County, the rebates will average at least $800. T he list of approved efficiency plans, obtained Wednesday by Gannett’s Albany Bureau, includes 661 schools, 608 towns, 307 villages and all but three counties outside New York City. “The governor has spent the last five years working to ensure that New York is no longer the high-tax capital o f the world,” said Morris Peters, a spokesman for the state Budget Divis ion. “Through the tax freeze program, we are encouraging both schools and local governments to work together a nd cut costs in order to provide property taxpayers with the relief they deserve.” Go to rochester.nydatabases.com/ database/nys-efficiency-plans to f ind out how your local communities f ared. Go to DemocratandChronicle.com/ blog/voteup to read the Albany blog. ALBANY BLOG NYState News and issues around the Empire State.