At the Nanuet School Board meeting earlier this week, Superintendent Mark McNeill presented details on the 2013-14 school budget to a room of more than 100 people. In the upcoming budget workshops, the district will need to look into how to close a $3.9 million gap to get under the tax levy limit. In an earlier Patch article, McNeill announced his recommendation that the grade reconfiguration would be tabled .
Upcoming Budget Workshops:
Workshops do not have an agenda nor a public forum
- March 11—General support, buildings and grounds, transportation, benefits and revenue
- March 12—Staffing and instruction
- March 19—Total Budget Review (followed by a regular board meeting)
The powerpoint presentation is attached to this article as a PDF
“2011-12 was the year we implemented the Pfizer agreement,” said McNeill. “It was signed the year before. This was the year we knew the amount Pfizer was paying in taxes was being reduced by about 50 percent. We knew that shift of assessed valuation (and how it worked into the tax formula) was going to affect taxpayers heavily. So what the board did, they reduced the levy below the prior year’s levy. In effect, the taxes that you received were wholly attributable to Pfizer’s assessment being reduced. We had to use reserves to affect that which was about $1.4 million.”
“The current year, 2012-13, was the first year of the legislative tax levy limit. The board has always had control of the levy up until the current year. The board had no control over that .64 percent. Most districts in the state came in with a levy … a little above 2 percent.”
The Nanuet School District did not come in at the average 2 percent because they retired debt the year before; in doing so, the district was penalized and had to come in at only .64 percent. Read more about how the levy limit works in this Patch article.
“The reserves are now a very important part of our budget process. State Aid, we’re getting a 1.01 percent increase. That’s what it is right now … unless the assembly and the senate are able to impact the governor’s recommendation. Only time will tell.”
The 2013-14 is set at 1.3 percent. This number was is formula driven and is out of the district’s control.
“Why is it not around 2 percent or so? It’s because we have the Shops at Nanuet in a PILOT agreement (Payment in lieu of taxes) with the county and that amount must be subtracted from the levy. This is two years in a row where we’re not able to come in at about 2 percent like most districts in the state.”
“The budget is To Be Determined, which is where we are now. Right now I’m seeing that we’re going to have to take approximately $3 million in reserves to preserve programs and maintain class sizes.”
Mandated Fixed Costs
The budget strategy is to preserve instructional programs and class sizes under tax levy limit in 2013-14. However, the district, like all other districts, have the difficult process of balancing the budget with fixed costs that are out of the district’s control.
“The strategy has always been the same. I’ve been in the superintendent position for 20 years. Some board members have been on longer. We built the programs. We’ve always taken the best ideas and tried to implement them. The quality of instruction will decrease as class sizes go up. Now, under the levy limit, we’re not building, we’re dismembering. This is not just a Nanuet problem. This is what all school districts in the state are facing.”
Since the October board meeting, these are the changes in the February fixed cost estimates:
- Nanuet Teachers Association Step & Salary Increase: $840,280, down $20,470 from October’s estimate
- Special Education Tuition: $175,000, down $100,000
- Employee retirement system (ERS): $110,000, up $10,000
- Teacher retirement system (TRS): $950,000, up $300,000
- Health Insurance: $839,010, up $407,810
- Total Mandated Cost Estimate: $3,802,160 in February, up $597,340 from October’s estimate.
Closing the Gap
There’s a gap of almost $4 million the district has to close to get the budget under the 2013-14 tax levy limit
“The reserves for the 13-14 school year is about $2,9 million. I’m estimating for reserves that we would apply this year—If the gap is $3.9 million—about $1 million,” said McNeill. He added that this was just an estimate that would need further discussion at the upcoming March budget workshops.
“All of the unknowns will be known in March.”
Over in Clarkstown School District, they're looking at a budget that has a gap of $9 million between expenses and revenues. Clarkstown School District Assistant Superintendent for Business, Facilities and Fiscal Management John LaNave said if the entire $9 million is withdrawn, it could possibly deplete the unrestricted reserve fund.
Pearl River Director of Operations Quinton Van Wynen is projecting a $1.7 million shortfall in the district budget for 2013-14, with even larger deficits for 2014-15 ($2.4 million) and 2015-16 ($2.6 million).
Check back with Nanuet Patch later today for the last article from this board meeting, which will look at how to close the gap, board and public comments
Related Patch Articles:
- McNeill Requests Tabling of Grade Reconfiguration
- Future Nanuet School Budget: "Going to be Survival"
- Nanuet School Budget: Possible Depletion of Reserves
- Superintendent McNeill Explains Proposed Changes
- Nanuet School Budget: Breaking Down the Numbers
- Nanuet Schools 2013-14 Budget: $3.5M Budget Gap
- Nanuet School Board: Federal Call to Action