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BC audit reveals predictable trends

Administrators foresee PR problem in tax cap

— While the bottom line is better, the cafeteria is serving up fewer full meals. The district is averaging about 1,325 meals sold per day versus last year’s average of about 1,600 per day.

The reduction is mostly at the high school. At the same time, it’s not entirely clear this is due to the price hike — more students are forgoing lunch to take extra classes and the sale of a la carte items is up.

Tax cap will be key issue

The upcoming school budget will be the first time the school district contends with the new property tax cap. Though it’s advertised to keep tax levy increases to 2 percent or lower, Kehoe noted there are exceptions to the rule.

As described by the state’s own guidelines, figuring out the tax cap for each municipality is an eight-step process. Take a deep breath, because here it is:

Take the prior year’s tax levy to start; then, multiply by a “tax base growth factor,” which is a figure provided by that state; then add in any payment in lieu of taxes; take out tort action payments exceeding 5 percent of the previous year’s annual tax levy; then multiply by the “allowable levy growth factor,” which is 2 percent or the consumer price index, whichever is lower; take out PILOTs scheduled for the coming year; add in any carryover funds (extra taxes from the previous year); and carry forward eligible exclusions.

The result is the tax levy limit. It’s a far cry from a simple 2 percent cap (thought it could conceivably end up being that figure), and Kehoe said impressing this upon the community is likely to be a big challenge in the coming budgeting process.

“At the end of the day, because of those pieces, it might not actually be two percent,” Kehoe said. “Confusion is the bottom line, I think, for a lot of people.”

The school district also has the option of putting forward a tax levy hike that’s above the limit and hoping for at least a 60 percent “yes” vote. Of course, it can also propose a figure under the limit.

In May, BC’s budget was passed with a 66 percent “yes” vote.

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Comments

truthteller 2 years, 6 months ago

Charles - you are a good reporter and writer, but like your predecesor did, you need to verify BCSD's fiscal talking points, they can put on a smooth show.

i think it is important to note that the district misrepresented some key facts: 1) ms. kehoe presented that the percent of unrestricted funds for last year was 4.3% - NOT! the NYS Comptroller's office cited them for having 6.5% of their subsequent year's budget in UNRESTRICTED FUNDS (that is, $1.89-million too much according to NYS law). this money was hiding in the district's 'tax reduction reserve" fund that was illegally established a while ago. according to ms kehoe's presentation, the district (quietly) did away that money this spring (on what we may never know), but it was most certainly not used to close last spring's purported budget gap.

2) the district's final expenses were $2.5-mill under budget last year (10-11). the year before that the district came in about $2.7-mill under budget (09-10). unfortunately, since this district uses last year's budgeted expenses rather than actual expeditures to begin the subsequent year's budget, it is money in the bank for the district. this is called budget smoke and mirrors.

In sum for this year, the district found about $4-million in play money.

I also found it completely ironic that for this year with the tax cap, ms. kehoe discussed how they could above the 2% tax levy due to certain exemptions in the law, creating the purported PR matter. wasn't it absolutely irresponsible (esp given the demographics of this community) that the district locked in at 2% levy last year to create a hole in the budget ?

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