Comsewogue Presents Budget That Pushes State Tax Cap

Proposed budget would require 4.5 percent higher tax rate.

is looking to get the public behind but to do that it needs to pass with 60 percent of the vote. Superintendent Joseph Rella also presented two alternative budgets. One stuck to the state cap and the other represented a zero percent increase if the budget did not pass.

According to the superintendent's February budget presentation, the New York State tax cap for Comsewogue is 2.6 percent, which represents the maximum of 2 percent plus any increase in the district's pension contributions, allowable under the law.

Major expenditures in any new 2012-2013 Comsewogue school budget come from the expiration of teacher givebacks from last year ($1.5 million) and education grant funds that will also expire ($1.1 million).

The proposed budget would cost the school $78,819,507 for the 2012-2013 school year and include a 4.5 percent tax levy increase. In comparison, last year's budget came in at $76,558,768, an increase of $2,260,739 or 2.9 percent.

Last year's budget passed overwhelmingly and reflected a 10 percent increase in the tax levy. It was also a year in which teachers and administrators contributed $1.5 million in givebacks in order to save jobs from being eliminated.

This year's rollover budget would still require over $2.1 million in cost cutting. In order to make the budget, Superintendent Rella has proposed eliminations and reductions in a number of areas and at all grade levels.

Elementary gets hit hardest with a reduction in certain sections based on enrollment, reduction of academic intervention services, elimination of a math coaching position, reduction of library services in all four buildings, including closing the library one day a week and reduction in extracurricular programs, adding up to a total of $685,800 in savings.

Other large savings come from cuts to middle school ($390,000), collapsing certain sections of high school classes and changing health requirements ($390,000), reduction in various administrative costs ($100,000) and reducing administrative staff ($125,000).

A full breakdown of cuts is available here for download as a spreadsheet on the district's website.

The proposed increase will cost homeowners $9.96 per $100 of assessed valuation, according to a chart on the district's website. The average cost is calculated to $299 per year based on an assessed value of $3,000, slightly above the average of $2,700 in the district, according to the budget presentation.

New York State law requires 60 percent of voters to approve a school budget if it exceeds the cap.

If the school district stuck with a tax cap budget, then the tax levy would increase by 2.6 percent with $2.9 million needed to be eliminated from the total budget.

If the budget is ultimately defeated and the district is forced to implement a zero percent increase in the tax levy, then it would need to cut $4.4 million from the existing budget.

JOHN March 10, 2012 at 10:11 PM
Only taxpayers shou;d be allowed to vote on budget matters,
none of your buisness! March 16, 2012 at 06:18 PM
Fred March 16, 2012 at 08:25 PM
There should be an Island Wide vote no (over 2%) campaign to counter what will be the hard sell from the districts. Our home values continue to go based at least in part from the ridiculous tax burden.They will say its for the kids, but I find it horrible that they will cut sports/programs to save a few thousand, yet lavish their super's with 300k pensions. Then they try to guilt the taxpayer, its time we said no more. 7% last year, 4.6% this year, all while there's zero economic growth and declining home values. When does it end? When does someone take responsibility and fix what is a broken system?
AConcernedResident March 22, 2012 at 12:54 PM
Our kids deserve a good education, with smaller class sizes at the elementary level than the proposed 30, and extracurricular activities, sports, etc. Administration salaries, while high, are important to attract highly qualified professionals, and our district's salaries are lower than many other LI districts. The state tax cap is unfair and forces the LI school districts to make difficult cuts unless we contribute more to help. We should be focusing more on lobbying the state govt officials to give LI its fair share of school funds - that is where the real problem lies. I will be voting yes, and I hope you do too.
jackie March 28, 2012 at 05:09 PM
Absolutely not last year my taxes went up 750.00 just on school portion. I can't afford another increase. Sadly for school and our children!!


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