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April 10 budget meeting to focus on revenue as Board looks to adopt proposed 2018-19 BCSD budget

Filed in Budget News, District, District News by on April 4, 2018

The Bethlehem Central School District Board of Education is expected to adopt a proposed 2018-19 budget at its next meeting on Tuesday, April 10. The proposed budget will be voted on by district residents on May 15.

At the upcoming meeting, the Board will take a closer look at projected revenues for the coming year and finalize plans for closing a budget gap that is estimated at $1.5 million. The Board of Education meeting will take place on Tuesday, April 10 at 7 p.m. at the Bethlehem Central High School Library Media Center (LMC).

Superintendent Jody Monroe said the seven-member Board has been working on budget development since February when the baseline budget deficit was more than $3.3 million. Since that time, she said, areas of savings have been identified by the district and department requests have been pared to address priority issues and budget constraints.

According to Monroe, the gap is due in large part to increases in mandated pension and health care costs. She said while school districts have minimal control over employee-related expenses, the district has been taking a careful approach to balancing the needs of students with community resources.

“Over a series of four public meetings, members of the Board have been hearing recommendations from district administrators and department supervisors on areas where reductions could be made and where additions might be needed,” said Superintendent Jody Monroe. “The last piece of the budget puzzle is to take a close look at revenues, including state aid, to determine a proposed tax levy and estimate what it will mean for local taxpayers.”

Superintendent Monroe said the recently enacted 2018-19 New York State budget included an additional $161,000 in state aid for Bethlehem.

“We were certainly pleased to receive the additional state aid,” said Monroe. “This aid will factor into the Board’s determination of the tax levy and final vote on a proposed spending plan they will present to voters.”

The tax levy, she said, is the total amount of money a school district raises in taxes each year from all property owners in the district. It is calculated after all other revenues are accounted for. The tax levy affects the tax rate, which is used to determine individual property tax bills, according to Monroe.

The district’s maximum allowable tax levy limit is 3.95 percent under New York state’s tax cap law. If the Board were to approve a tax levy increase above that amount, the budget would require a supermajority vote (60 percent or more) to pass.

Each one percent of a tax levy increase would generate approximately $640,000 for the district, Monroe said.

Tax rates — which provide the most accurate estimation of the impact to taxpayers in the district — are determined by the total assessed values and equalization rates in both the town of Bethlehem and the town of New Scotland.

At the April 10 meeting, the district’s Chief Business and Financial Officer Judith Kehoe will offer a preliminary look at different tax rate scenarios for the Board to review in making final budget decisions.

“The April 10 meeting is an important opportunity for the community to weigh in on the budget before the vote in May,” said Superintendent Monroe. “I would encourage interested residents to attend.”

View 2018-19 Budget presentations on the district’s budget page.