Despite financial hardships brought about by a state-mandated two percent tax cap and increasing expenditures, the Levittown school district announced this week that there will be no program cuts in their proposed 2013-14 budget.
Assistant Superintendent of Business and Finance Mark Flower held a presentation of the District’s first draft of next year’s budget, expressing the difficulty of crafting a spending plan that meets Levittown’s needs in light of the new tax cap.
"Prior to the tax cap, we would have our educational programs as a base, and that dictate the expenditures needed to support them, and the revenue needed to support those expenditures,” he said. “When the tax cap came into play, it really changed the way that schools develop their budgets...now the revenue side is the driving force, and that sets the expenditures, which is backing down into the educational programs.”
But despite the financial hurdles to overcome, Flower did confirm that no programs will cut or changed next year, although budget issues and enrollment numbers may dictate possible staffing changes.
As for the hard numbers, the proposed 2013-14 budget presently clocks in at $195,590,205, which is a 2.94 percent increase over the previous year’s budget of $189,996,581.
According to Flower, the increase can be attributed to several factors:
• Levititown’s Teacher Retirement System contribution increasing from 11.84 percent to 16.25 percent. • Healthcare costs increasing 7.9 percent for the fist half of the calendar year, followed by a 10 percent increase for the second half. • Increased BOCES Special Education services by 6 percent. • Middle school security camera installations. • New phone system for the District. • Medicare Part D reimbursement resulting in a loss of $1.1 million in revenue.
The maximum allowable Tax Levy for 2013-14 currently stands at 3.52 percent; however, the actual Tax Levy has not yet been calculated due to the budget’s early state.
“The actual Tax Levy could be anywhere from zero to 3.52 percent,” Flower said. “However, I think it’s save to say that the School Board does not what to pierce the cap.”
In contrast to increasing District expenses, Flower stated that state aid to Levittown will increase by 2 percent; however, he stated that this provides little help when looking at the big picture.
“It’s not even close to being able to keep up with what our expenditures are,” he said, adding that the District will have to start dipping into their savings in order to make ends meet next year.
Board of Education President Mike Pappas praised the initial draft of the 2013-14 budget, citing how many other schools were being forced to make cuts to vital student programs that Levittown has thus far been able to avoid.
“I want to thank everyone in this administration for their hard work in getting us to this point,” he said. “There are a lot of school districts on Long Island that are closing buildings, eliminating all-day kindergarten, eliminating technological purchases, going to an eight-period day...and while I don’t think in any way, shape, or form that these problems are looming on the horizon for us, we will continue to look to the future. We’ve made is another year, and that’s a good thing.”
The next budget presentation of the Levittown School District will be held on March 20.