BOE TO REVIEW INITIAL 2014-15 BUDGET DRAFT AT THURSDAY NIGHT MEETING; LOW INFLATION RATE WILL AFFECT LEVY LIMIT; STATE AID UNCLEAR
February 11, 2014 -- Without a clear picture from Albany with regard to state aid, but now with a better idea of the tax levy limit, the North Shore School Board will begin its review of the first budget draft for the 2014-15 school year on Thursday evening.
Last month, Schools Superintendent Dr. Edward Melnick offered a general outline of his proposal, which would increase spending by about $3.2 million over the current year. That number, he said would need to be trimmed by $933,000 in order to bring the spending plan within the tax levy limit imposed by New York State - a course of action he recommended to the trustees, and which would result in a 2.3% budget to budget increase.
Since January's preliminary' budget draft presentation, the State has released numbers that allow each school district to determine its own unique tax levy limit, but has yet to finalize its state aid figures, which are unlikely to be known until March 31 at the earliest - the "deadline" for passage of the state budget.
The "allowable tax levy growth factor" which serves as a starting point in a complicated formula that is used to determine each individual district's cap, Comptroller Tom DiNapoli announced recently, will be 1.46%, rather than 2%, the percentage that has been used for the past two years. The overall tax levy limit for the district, however, will not match the 1.46% figure since a variety of expenditures such as the previous year's capital improvements and debt service are excluded from that limit. As a result tax caps for individual districts can vary widely. For instance, for the 2013-14 budget, when the "allowable tax levy growth factor" was 2%, the cap for East Meadow was a 5.24% increase, while Manhasset's was .15%, and North Shore's was limited to 3.51%.
With regard to state aid, some media outlets such as Newsday have reported significant declines in help from Albany for districts across Long Island (17% for North Shore). Those figures can be misleading however, since aid to school districts from the Governor's proposed budget for 2014-15 are being presented in contrast to actual state aid from the legislature for the 2008-09 school year - the last budget adopted before the "Great Recession," and do not take into consideration year to year changes.
In addition, the Governor's executive budget which was released on January 21 is merely a proposal, and if past years are any indication, does not give a clear picture of what help Albany will actually provide. According to Mr. Cuomo's figures, aid to the North Shore district would increase 4.6% over last year, from $3,532,354 to $3,694,981. However, those numbers are misleading as well as they compare figures from one year's executive proposal to the next, rather than the proposal for next school year to the actual aid package passed by the legislature for this year. In reality, according to Assistant Superintendent for Business Olivia Buatsi, the district is slated to receive $3,856,975 this year under the budget that was passed by the legislature. The governor's proposal, she explained, would actually represent a decline of 4.2%. However, Ms. Buatsi added, for the past 24 out of 25 years, the legislature's aid package has been higher than the governor's, and expects the district to receive a bit more in 2014-15 than the district will receive this year (2013-14).
On Thursday evening, the school board will begin a months long process of reviewing budget line items, starting with the following categories - Board of
Education, Central Administration, Central Services/Facilities/Operations,
Commercial Insurance/BOCES, Supervision of Instruction, and Regular Instruction. On April 3 the trustees will vote to adopt a spending plan and tax levy that will be put before voters on May 20.
BACK TO WEEKLY
The above figures were provided at the January 16, 2014 North Shore Board of Education Meeting.
SCHOOL BOARD EXPRESSES UNCERTAINTY REGARDING POTENTIAL TAX SHIFT FROM GWL PLANT RAMP-DOWN (January 20, 2014)
BOARD NOTES - NORTH SHORE BOARD OF EDUCATION, JAN. 16, 2014