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Pension Costs Could Affect School Tax Levy

Mineola officials, regardless of the option,

do not want to pierce the state imposed tax cap

Teacher retirement in the Mineola School District could affect next year’s tax levy, which has a state-imposed 2 percent limit that was put into law in 2011. Finance Superintendent Jack Waters revealed that the district could have $800,000 exempt from the cap due to the estimated retirement costs that would go into effect in the 2013-14 school year.

Waters said the Teacher Retirement System (TRS) increases for next year is about $1.5 million. Mineola under state law could put out a 3.05 percent increase for the next year, with half of the estimated TRS cost spikes not included, leveling out piercing the cap, a move the district does not want to make.

Pension cost estimations, according to Waters, could be anywhere from 15.5 to 16.5 percent or $5.9 million. Employee cost rates for this year is 11.84 percent, with an estimated increase of 4.16 percent next year. The 2012-13 TRS payroll totals $37 million.

The first 2 percent of the employee cost rate is included in the levy cap calculation, according to Waters. Any increase over the 2 percent is exempt from the levy cap, which means if the district chooses, it can exceed the cap.

“It still has to be paid,” Waters said. “For example, where the first 2 percent has to be included in the levy cap, $740,000 is part of the calculation we have to prove to the state that this is where our pension costs are. The additional 2.16 percent ($800,000) is outside the cap and would be reflected as an exempt amount in terms of proving to the taxpayer that we have complied with the 2 percent [cap].”

Last year’s tax levy totaled $76,242,180. Waters said regardless of the exemption, the district would still work to not float a 3.05 tax levy increase.

“We would go out with a tax levy of 3.05 for the 2013-14 year but we would comply with the state saying the 1.05 [percent] is exempt. [The 3.05 percent] is something, all things being equal I don’t think we’re going to work towards.”

District Superintendent Michael Nagler pointed out that TRS alone is more than the 2 percent cap, “which is not good. What will be allowed under the law of the cap, we would be allowed to go out with 3 percent. That would be within the cap parameter. So it’s kind of a misnomer that you get this exemption; it’s a bad word because you’d think you’d be exempt from paying it, you’re not. It just doesn’t figure in to the 2 percent [state cap].”

Nagler noted that the TRS budget line is significant in how the district crafts a budget for next year. In May, the district floated and passed a $83,992,180 budget, a decrease of $229,458 or a 0.27 percent drop in spending from 2011-12.

“The levy calculation this year has some added twists in it,” said Nagler. “ Putting a budget…our norm has been around 2.5 [percent] over the last four or five years. It’s going to be a challenge to get to that number this year, but we haven’t really started crafting the budget yet. We’re just looking at big numbers. When we start to apply how we craft the budget, we’ll have news on this as we go along. This number is pretty astronomical and there’s no indication that this is leveling off.”

Board President William Hornberger said according to State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, that Mineola should anticipate future increases in employee cost rates.

“Everything is dependent upon the global capital markets and what’s driving their rate of return,” Hornberger stated. “Last year’s rate of return for the fiscal year ending June 30 was 2.8 percent. Apparently, that wasn’t good enough.”

News

The Wheatley School recently hosted an Item Writing Workshop for more than 100 language teachers representing districts across New York State.  The workshop was sponsored by the Foreign Language Association of Chairpersons and Supervisors (FLACS), the professional organization that has assumed responsibility for the creation and administration of the FLACS

Checkpoint A and B Exams (formerly the NYS Second Language Proficiency and Regents Exams).

Last year, the Mineola Fire Department initiated an Adopt-A-Hydrant program to offer residents and businesses an opportunity to enhance their fire protection by providing a simple service to the village, caring for a fire hydrant. The MFD is looking for adopters once again.


Sports

After consecutive seasons of finishing runner-up in the men’s golf Player of the Year for the Skyline Conference, Christian Bleck of St. Joseph’s took home first place in a rather unlikely turn of events. 

 

After a herniated disc caused the Chaminade High School alum to miss every event after the first week of the season until the conference tournament, Bleck returned—without even having the luxury of practicing a full 18 holes—and competed with the best players the conference has to offer. 

Cross-Country Crowned Champs

The Mineola Mustang boys cross-country team won the division 4A championship recently at Bethpage State Park.  This is the first championship for the program since 1974, ending a 40-year championship drought. 

 

Mineola defeated Seaford, who also entered the undefeated in division competition, 38-20.  Overcoming rain and high winds throughout the race, many Mustangs ran personal records for the 5K in route to the victory.


Calendar

Mineola School Meeting - November 20

Fools Rush In - November 21

Mustangs Face Roosevelt - November 22 


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