Peekskill schools are facing a gap of nearly $3.2 million between projected revenue and anticipated expenses after initial calculations for a budget for the 2012-13 school year, the Board of Education was told Tuesday night.
The initial, or “rollover,” stage of the budgeting process began with this year’s spending plan – $72,013,090 – plus such built-in increases as contractual raises (estimated at 2 percent) and health insurance (estimated at 3 percent) to arrive at a total of $75,839,048 for next year, Gregory Sullivan, assistant superintendent for business, explained to the board. The budget-to-budget increase is about $3.8 million, or 5.3 percent. Anticipated revenue – the largest components of which are property taxes and state aid – is projected at $72,658,350, leaving a shortfall of $3,180,698.
State aid proposed in the budget of Gov. Andrew Cuomo in January totals $28,905,784, a 0.53 percent increase over this year’s amount. The Legislature traditionally increases the aid figure when it adopts the state budget, which is due by April 1.
Under state law any increase in the property tax levy is capped at 2 percent unless a school district takes special steps to implement a greater increase. Peekskill’s tax levy limit for 2012-13 would be $36,198,780 under a complex series of calculations beginning with the 2011-12 levy of $35,020,703 and including a growth factor and certain expenditures excluded from the cap by law.
The district will ask the state to review its calculations, the results of which will be posted on its Web site by March 1 as required by law.
Superintendent of Schools James Willis said the district hoped to avoid staff reductions while bringing the budget into compliance with the cap. Regarding possible use of the district’s fund balance to reduce expenses next year he noted that the state recommends that Peekskill carry a balance of 4 percent of its budget, or approximately $3 million, in case of unanticipated expenses. The district’s current balance is about $2.8 million.
In its quest for savings the district is considering bonding $4.2 million to cover refunds in tax certiorari cases, which would spread such costs over several years and reduce the impact in any given year. Other savings are expected to come from a new bus contract that will calculate charges in a manner more favorable to the district.
Board President Joseph Urbanowicz suggested the district investigate whether it could educate some special education students less expensively within the district than by sending them elsewhere, saving on payments on transportation and other facilities.
By law the district must adopt a budget by April 17. A public hearing is scheduled May 1. Residents will vote on the budget May 15.