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Skaneateles BOE presents tentative budget

Rising costs for retirement, healthcare benefits will raise tax levy

The Skaneateles board of education presented its tentative budget for the 2013-2014 school year at its meeting on March 19.

Assistant Superintendent for Business and Finance Dale Bates presented the budget to the board.

The total budget will be $30,169,116, an increase of 3.53 percent from this year’s budget. The tax levy is estimated to be $22,856,022, a 5.35 percent increase from the previous year. The estimated tax rate is unavailable at this time, because the district does not know the assessment values for the six towns which the district draws from.

The increase in the budget is driven, in part, by rising costs for health insurance and retirement benefits for its support staff and teachers caused by the Federal Affordable Healthcare for America Act, Bates said.

New York State sets a tax levy cap each year for school districts. The levy can only increase by an amount tied to the consumer price index, typically around two percent, Bates said.

This year the district faces an 11.75 percent increase in employee benefit costs. These increases will create for a larger than usual rise in the tax levy, though they are excluded from the state levy cap, Bates said.

The district is permitted to increase its tax levy this year by as much as 6.25 percent (or $23,050935) and if it does not, that extra money it could have collected will be “left on the table,” interim superintendent of schools Judy Pastel said.

The board would want to raise the tax levy more than it needs to this year because it will be losing a revenue source in the near future when its reserve funds — which account for $400,000 in revenue for next year’s budget — are gone, Bates said.

The board will vote to adopt the budget on April 16 and it will be put to a public vote on May 21 along with school board elections and a resolution to buy two new school buses.

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