Update: The Riverhead Board of Education adopted Superintendent Nancy Carney’s proposed $117.6 million budget carrying an estimated 3.82 percent increase to next year’s tax levy Tuesday night by a 5-0 vote. School board members Jeff Falisi and Kimberly Ligon were absent from the meeting.
The Riverhead school board is expected to adopt Superintendent Nancy Carney’s proposed $117.6 million budget — which carries an estimated 3.82 percent year-to-year tax levy increase — at tonight’s meeting.
The proposed spending increase for the 2013-14 school year, compared to this school year, is about $5.7 million, up 5.12 percent.
Under the plan, no one is being laid off, and the budget maintains student programs and extracurricular activities.
During a special meeting last Wednesday, the school board voted 6-0 to use just over $100,000 from existing reserve funds to implement new district-wide security measures. It rejected another option to raise the proposed tax levy increase from 3.82 to 3.94 percent to cover the costs. School board member Kimberly Ligon was absent from the meeting.
While a state law passed in 2011 caps year-to-year increases in the tax levy — the total amount the district collects from taxpayers — at 2 percent, the district is allowed to exceed the mandate because some expenses, such as $1.13 million in pension expenses and about $2.36 million in capital costs in Riverhead, are exempt.
By calculating in those exemptions, Ms. Carney said Riverhead is allowed to raise the tax levy by as much as 5.14 percent without needing to obtain 60 percent voter approval. But, she said, it was her administration and the school board’s goal to present a budget to voters under the state’s allowable tax levy rate.
Earlier this month, Ms. Carney gave a budget presentation during a regular school board meeting and said a chunk of additional aid the state Legislature secured in February for the district will help offset next year’s tax levy increase.
The state aid boost wasn’t anticipated when Governor Andrew Cuomo released his tentative state budget in January in Albany.
Mr. Cuomo’s proposed spending plan had earmarked $18.75 million in state aid for the Riverhead district for the 2013-14 school year, which would have been a 6.37 percent boost over the current school year. Two months later, the state Legislature secured a 16.17 percent increase, totaling $20.45 million.
In addition to increased revenue, the district was successful in reducing $2 million from the expenditure side of next year’s spending plan through a retirement incentive agreement. Without the agreement, Ms. Carney has said next year’s spending plan would need to increase by about $6.6 million carrying a tax levy increase of 7.48 percent.
Although each employee who takes the retirement incentive will receive $20,000, Ms. Carney said the move will still save the district over $70,000 per employee that accepts the offer.
When residents go to cast their vote on the budget May 21, they will also be asked to approve two propositions involving replacement of the bus barn off Osborn Avenue, which houses the transportation and maintenance departments and was first built in 1920 as a barn for horses.
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