$9 Million Gap In Draft 2013-2014 School Budget

Proposed $192,882,638 budget would increase the property tax levy by 4.3 percent


Clarkstown School District Assistant Superintendent for Business, Facilities and Fiscal Management John LaNave delivered an overview of the draft 2013-2014 budget of $192,882,638 at Thursday’s board of education meeting. The proposed spending plan would increase the property tax levy by 4.3 percent. It represents an increase of 6.62 percent over the current school budget of $180,931,141. 

He described it as a “straight forward rollover budget” that would maintain current programs and staff for the coming school year. However, the budget has a gap of $9 million between expenses and revenues.

LaNave explained that expenses would increase by $13 million in the proposed budget but revenues would go up only by $6.7 million. The major areas of increase are $5 million for salaries, $5.5 million for contributions to pension programs, $500,000 for FICA, $1,750,000 for health care and $250,000 for the district’s Tech Refresh program. State aid will rise by $679,000. 

“There are very few costs that we control,” said LaNave.

LaNave said that leaves a gap of $6,301,000 between increased expenses and revenue. That money could come out of the district’s unrestricted reserve fund. After the meeting, LaNave said if the entire $9 million is withdrawn, it could possibly deplete the unrestricted reserve fund. The reserve fund holds $38 million but restrictions are placed on how most of the money can be spent.

According to LaNave, every one percent increase in the tax levy equals $1.4 million.

“In the current year we appropriated about $4.7 million in order to shore up the budget,” he explained. “We didn’t have enough from revenues either from the tax base or from aid. So in the current year we appropriated $4.7 million in order to close that gap. The problem with using one time revenue for reoccurring expenses is you have to plug that hole each and every year. So then when we go into 13-14 although on the previous slide I said it was $6.3 million it is but then you have to take the hole you plugged in the previous year, $4.7 million, and add to it.”

When asked about the state imposed property tax cap of two percent, LaNave said, “The truth is the tax cap was a bad idea from the governor’s perspective.”

In order to override the tax cap, a budget can passed with just over a 50 percent majority. 

LaNave told the small group of residents at the meeting that the district tries to underspend its budget each year but noted the budget does not include discretionary items such as buses or roofs. Even if the district does not spend the $4.7 million taken out of reserves for the current year, it still has a budget gap of $5 million.

The complete draft budget will be presented to the school board on March 14. A combined community and board of education budget review is scheduled for March 18. 

LaNave showed three slides during his introduction, which were expected to be available on the district’s web site on Friday.

and one more note...as you all drive in those flashy vehicles..and you see a pedestrian over 60 carrying food or walking with assistance...wearing clothes that arent the most expensive..maybe a few layers...honk your horn!!!!show them you are the chosen people!!!!laugh at them!!!!yell that your out on overtime and you get paid for 4 hours even if its a 15 minute phone call..Show them you are the boss!!!!tell them you are getting your car detailed...
point to wayne and sparaco yesterday on rt 304..west of germonds road..your incredible road crews where cleaning off the bus stops...holding up traffic for 4 minutes and ready??? the guy with the warning flags waves us thru a red light as another car was going thru on green!!!!!!!!!!luckly the car in front of me looked and saw it..because your incredible road workers didnt..and YOU DID HAVE A TALL GUY WHO WAS SUPERVISING EVERYTHING...BALLARD GO HIRE MORE PART TIMERS...was sparaco on the phone? and give your guys pictures of what colors mean on a traffic light this happened at approx 1.15 pm sunday
ADK February 11, 2013 at 03:33 PM
I'm still trying to understand how the District has amassed $38 million dollars in a reserve fund...this means that they have asked for millions more than they actually needed for years...forgetting for a moment that it is taxpayer money, and that they have an obligation to budget in good faith, and that they have an obligation to have total transparency in the budget process, and that they have no legal authority to continually ask for unencumbered money and not either spend it or return it to the public...if they had all this money, why wouldn't they fix up some of the buildings that are claimed to be in a virtual state of collapse? Remember the bond/roach/rat fiasco of a few years ago? When each and every building was in imminent danger of falling down? When ONLY a $182 MILLION bond would do? Given that state aid still pays 55% of construction costs (although we were told that was going away also) we could have used a portion of the $38 million to have the buying power of $75 million +/-...we know that $6 million was saved when the teachers union took a freeze in their most recent contract (good job by all concerned) because the budget that was voted on still had that amount for raises...
Mike Hirsch February 12, 2013 at 02:34 PM
Excellent point ADK. I agree with you. From what I understand, they amassed it over the last few years. I think John LaNave should answer that question. They should not be holding on to that much money. I say spend most of it now on the needed repairs.
Joe Ciardullo February 12, 2013 at 04:08 PM
It's baseline budgeting 101. If they "carry over" 4 milion, then that means that the budget was 4 million over. The new budget is based on the prior budget which had the "carry over". Do that for a few years and you see where the "surplus" comes from.


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