Sayville Schools are in "good form" to weather the financial storm, according to Sayville's assistant superintendent for business John Belmonte, who said energy cost savings and a new special education program represent two positive aspects of the proposed budget.
At their Jan. 12 meeting, the the Sayville Board of Education discussed the 2012-2013 proposed budget and Belmonte provided a thorough explanation of the 2-percent Property Tax Cap.
Belmonte delivered a slide show presentation outlining the proposed $85,674,961 budget, which represents a 4.76-percent budget percentage increase and a 4.77-percent proposed increase on tax rate.
The district will save $75,000-$105,000 on natural gas costs by joining an energy consortium. With an energy peformance contract currently underway, the district can expect to see an additional $700,000 per year in energy savings.
Belmonte explained that although New York's Property Tax Levy Cap has been referred to as a "2-pecent tax cap," it doesn't restrict any proposed tax levy increase to 2-percent, but is a "spending limit" on the district's tax levy, not tax rate.
As Belmonte stated on his slides, "a district's tax levy is the additional pot of money needed to fund a portion of the voter approved budget, after accounting for all other revenue sources including state aid. It is only one of several revenue sources."
A district's tax rate is used to assess the taxes needed over the entire community.
"The tax rate is affected by the community's assessed valuation and base allocations (ratio between residential and commercial properties)," Belmonte said. "Based on these variables, the change in the tax rate is usually different from the change in the tax levy."
The district won't receive information on the assessed value and base allocations until the beginning of August, according to Belmonte.
Numerous calls to the State Education Department (SED) and State Comptroller's Office have yielded little, if any, information, noted Belmonte. He said districts have received no guidance from the state regarding the finer details of this law, such as the formula guidelines for determining the tax levy cap.
"State agencies haven't finalized components of this formula [used to calculate the 2-percent spending limit] yet," Belmonte said. "What we present is our best interpretation based on the professionals at the SED we have dealt with, so there may be adjustments to this."