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Mohon unveils ‘grim’ forecast

Tax cap limits spending, school aid decreases as costs increase

— Assistant Superintendent for Business Denise Swezey gave an overview of the eight-step process for calculation of the tax levy cap during the meeting. If the district exceeds the tax levy threshold after calculations, the budget would need to be approved by a margin of 60 percent instead of the normal 50 percent voter approval.

Any pension contribution costs increasing more than 2 percent are excluded from the tax levy cap restriction. Swezey said the support staff contribution rates are expected to increase from 16.3 percent to 18.9 percent, which allows for 0.6 percentage points to be excluded from the tax levy cap calculation. This would allow for $28,000 to be exempt from the tax cap, while $69,000 would be absorbed within it. The total support staff pension contribution is estimated to total just over $879,000 for the 2012-13 budget.

The teachers, principals and directors pension contribution rates for the district are estimated to increase from 11.1 percent to 12.5 percent in next year’s budget. This would result in an increase of more than $334,000, which falls within the cap since the percentage point difference is less than 2 percent at a 1.39 percent estimated increase. This represents a 17 percent expenditure increase though, said Swezey.

“One of things you keep hearing is mandate relief … but it doesn’t cover it. It is a just a way they are spinning the 2 percent cap information,” Swezey said.

Spring presented three theoretical tax levy scenarios and what reductions would mean. If the tax levy increase were 4.2 percent, the district would need to reduce the budget by around $2.4 million. If the tax levy increase were 3.4 percent, its spending would be reduced by $2.6 million. The district’s worst-case scenario would be a contingency budget, which would have the tax levy increasing by zero percent, necessitating in around $3.3 million in reductions.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is expected to release his state budget around Jan. 15, which will give the district a more clear understanding of needed cuts. The first community budget forum is tentatively scheduled for Jan. 30 at 6:30 p.m. at the high school. The Board of Education will adopt a proposed 2012-13 budget in April. For information on the district’s budget process and upcoming budget forums visit its website at www.mohonasen.org.

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