At its August 14 meeting, the Board of Education unanimously voted for the 2001-2002 tax levy, which was estimated to be 13.15 percent. The percentage is an estimate at this point, it was explained, because the amount of State aid is not yet known. Though the 13.15 percent tax levy falls very slightly above the range stated in the District's budget brochure (9-13 percent), it will still be a burden to many, a fact acknowledged by the school board and administrators alike. In fact, 71% of the entire tax levy falls on the shoulders of homeowners, according to a District spokesperson.
The total amount needed for the school district and the library is $85,801,420, according to District figures. After subtracting revenues collected from other sources, the total needed for the schools and the library is $77,642,120 and this is to be raised through the tax levy. According to Assistant Superintendent for Business Mary Callahan, last year's tax rate was $53.30; this year, the estimate is $60.31.
In previous years, school boards decided to reduce the tax levy by using sums from the fund balance. In April 2001, though, the Board of Education determined that with a low fund balance, it would not be possible to reduce the tax levy this year, said the assistant superintendent. "We had to make up shortcomings from prior years," commented school board President Richard Sussman. "We have to make up the fund balance, and we have a large increase in population."
Those who applied for the STAR school tax relief program should take heart. While the increase is 13.1 percent, many in "the community will not see a bill that is 13.1 percent high; it will be offset by STAR," Callahan said.
(Please note: this was just one subject of many discussed at the Aug. 14 BOE meeting. The other topics of the meeting will be covered in separate articles in upcoming issues.)