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Mineola School District Presents Second Draft of 2011-2012 Budget

Current Draft Shows Tax Levy Increase Below 2.5 Percent

The Mineola School District presented its second draft of the 2011-2012 district budget at its last meeting on March 16 at the Willis Avenue School. The proposed budget for the next school year is $84,128,573. The budget-to-budget increase sits at $3,893,065 (4.86 percent) with a tax levy increase of 2.44 percent.

The proposed tax levy from the first draft has seen a $1,782,968 increase. The district was aiming at decreasing the tax levy increase to 2.5 percent or lower for a fourth consecutive year without cutting programs. The district is looking to adopt this budget for its vote in May.

In the previous draft, State aid was listed at $4,828,227. That figure has seen a $250,000 ($5,078,227) increase.

All current programs are included in the budget, as well as a $500,000 facility upgrade, which has been applied to such projects like the Hampton Street School press box. Finance Superintendent Jack Waters addressed residents in attendance on the budget and its parameters.

District salaries have seen a decrease of $300,000 while benefits have increased $2.3 million, mainly in health and pension costs. Waters reminded the audience that the tax cap of 2 percent recently passed by the state senate does not apply to district spending, only to the tax levy. He focused on the $2,625,211 transfer to capital line for the expansion of the Hampton Street School.

Without the transfer to capital for Hampton Street included, the adjusted budget would be $81,396,427; a $1.26 million increase, or 1.58 percent. The transfer to capital is comprised of $2,129,650 for Hampton, paid out of the designated fund balance and $495,561 for the Meadow Drive Library, paid through the tax levy.

“We have made great efforts to make sure over the last couple of years that we try to provide the taxpayers with a tax levy of 2.5 percent or less and this year we’ll be able to provide the same tax levy that we’ve talked about for years,” Waters said.

Current salaries account for $47,900,000 of the 2010-2011 budget, and Waters said that typically the district would see an annual increase at 4 percent, which would total an estimated $49,800,000. Mineola budgeted $47,600,000, a $2.2 million difference made possible by the reconfiguration and reducing 15.2 full time positions. The excesses include one administrator, one head custodian and clerical retirements.

“We said when we started this whole thing of closing schools, we can get five years of 2.5 percent levy and we’re completely on track to do that,” District Superintendent Michael Nagler said. “By and large, we’re always going to generate a 4 to 5 percent increase,” Nagler said. “When you’re forced to do a 2 percent cap, something has to give; the only thing that gives in school districts is personnel.”


What Happens in

Contingency?

If the district went to a contingent budget, the difference from the current draft (after adjustments due to a failed vote) would be $2,591,933. To arrive at the contingent budget figure, debt and leases ($3,294,861 million) are subtracted from the 2010-2011 budget of $80,128,573, which equals $76,833,712.

Multiplying that number by the consumer price index (CPI) of 1.92 percent) equals $78,308,919, according to Waters. Then add $3,120,786 of debt and leases after CPI back into the budget to equal the contingent budget of $81,429,705.

The $2,591,933 million in proposed cuts would be $495,561 from Meadow, the funds for the Hampton project and $140,157 from equipment. The Hampton Street project would still move forward as the money will simply be transferred to another reserve fund dedicated to capital projects before June 30 and a public vote will have to be held in either summer or early fall to approve the project.

“It will be out of the budget for purposes of determining what the budget will be and what the tax levy will be,” Waters said, noting that the total amount of cuts would be more than required, leaving $173,435 in excess.