Budget Vote: May 20, 2014 at BCHS, 7 a.m. - 9 p.m.
Budget Planning Calendar
Please join us and offer your input on BCSD budget issues.
• 2014-15 budget planning calendar coming soon!
Did you know?
That 2% you’ve been hearing so much about
is only a small part of the so-called “Tax Cap
Law.” In reality, it’s just one part of an eight-step formula that determines the maximum allowable tax levy the school district can pass with a simple majority. Click here to read more about the "tax cap."
With revenues flat and 2.72% tax-levy increase, gap more than $4.4 million
Due to the increasing cost of employee benefits and declining state aid, the Bethlehem Central School District is facing a $4.4 million budget shortfall for the 2012-13 school year.
Preliminary numbers show the district’s baseline expenditures stand at $91,500,000, with projected revenues totaling only $87,096,000, if voters approve a 2.72 percent tax levy increase. Under the new state “tax cap” law, the district would be able to propose a tax levy increase of approximately 2.72 percent and still need only a simple majority to approve the budget (see how the “cap” is determined here).
Based on last year’s aid run, the district estimated state aid for this year to be $22,800,000. However, the New York State Education Department aid reports that reflect what we will ultimately receive this year, our totals are only about $22,236,000, falling short approximately $564,000, according to Chief Business and Financial Officer Judith Kehoe.
Although the Governor’s aid run appears to maintain the same level of funding as last year, due to the shortfall experienced this year the district is not expecting the full amount of $22,746,000 and has budgeted to receive $22,290,000.
The lion’s share of the increasing budget expenditures are salaries and benefits. Salaries for the 2012-13 school year are up more than $2 million, from $44,918,302 to $46,986,416. The cost of employee benefits is similarly up $2.3 million for the 2012-13 school year.
“Given the requirements imposed by mandates and collective bargaining agreements, our ability to respond effectively in order to preserve the quality programs at Bethlehem is constrained to say the least,” said Kehoe.
Some of the district’s other revenue streams have taken a hit as well, said Kehoe. Particularly, it has seen a reduction in interest income because the district has used its fund balance to decrease the tax burden of previous budgets.
“We are working to identify the best options to consider, noting that after two years of significant and painful reductions – after taking the actions the state feels are needed: consolidating operations and spending down fund balance – we don’t have options remaining that are going to be considered ‘best’ by anyone,” Kehoe said.
The Bethlehem Central School District has reduced nearly 60 full-time positions over the past two years, losing through layoffs or attrition 26.8 FTE positions in the 2010-11 school budget and 31.9 in the 2011-12 budget.
The closure of Clarksville Elementary last year has saved the district $840,670. The $1.89 million that was held in a tax reduction reserve fund was used, with other monies from the district’s fund balance, to decrease the tax burden in the 2011-12 budget.
“We are monitoring our expenses and are actively pursuing alternate revenue streams such as the sale of the Education Center at 90 Adams Place and the rental of the Clarksville Elementary,” said Superintendent Thomas Douglas, “but absent any meaningful mandate relief, we’ll have extensive reductions to consider in order to balance the 2012-13 budget. It is important to note that there was supposed to be a 4 percent increase in school funding this year and substantial mandate relief. There has been hardly any relief from the Governor’s office on the most costly mandates, and our district has only seen an increase in state aid of about $57,000. This is far below the anticipated 4 percent widely discussed by our leaders.”
The district will host a Budget Presentation and Forum at its Wednesday, Feb. 15, meeting, and also a Community Budget Forum on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 7 p.m., at the BCMS library.
“We invite the public to be a part of this difficult budgeting process,” said Douglas. “The challenges we’ll face in crafting a budget for the 2012-13 school year will affect not only taxpayers, but students, parents, staff and other members of the BCSD community. In order to do what is right for our district, we need everyone to participate in the budget process.”
Douglas' note on becoming involved in the budget process