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David Albert, NYS School Bds Assoc- on Budget Votes

May 18, 2014|

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Let's look ahead to Tuesday. Budget votes and most school districts around the area. Around here you have a range you have places like Holland that are asking to exceed their tax cap and would need extra voters to approve that. And many have districts like Salamanca that is actually cutting taxes about 26%. Let's talk more about it let's bring in David Albert with a New York State school boards association. He's been crunching some of the numbers David thanks for joining us my pleasure what are you seeing at the district's raising taxes or mostly decreasing them. Well we're seeing Americans are art district -- -- Increasing taxes and for those that are raising them. We're seeing very low tax increases the average. Pakistani increase statewide smoking in all districts that are going out for a budget vote. It under Q percent one point 98% which is below attack on the increase in five years they -- -- so. I think what we're looking at across the board and here are. Basically some very low tax increases and in some cases. Reductions in the money. I've been questioning some of the numbers and Erie county I see the district that's raising the tax Levy the most is sweet home boosting it by about six point 07%. At the bottom of Erie county's list we have Cleveland hill raising their tax Levy by less than a full percent is that sort of range typical across the state. Yeah I think so as we look at districts across the state we do the bomb a wide range and you know that is very typical. I think there are more districts that the lower and and there are the hiring. And around here Holland I think is the only district really want a few upstate that's actually seeking to raise their taxes beyond the tax cap. That would mean they have to require a larger number of voters to pass the budget. But I also see that they're kind of an exception to what's going on in the rest of the state. There are 23 school districts statewide that are going to be looking to override their -- and that's actually the lowest number of districts seeking you know right. And don't attack the cap came into fruition. Back and 2012 luckily it was the first year of both Clinton -- caps so. How we're seeing fewer and fewer districts this year go for that override. Can we therefore say that the tax cap is working the districts are catching on here absolutely I think so and and I think there -- a couple of factors at play in the first is that it becomes far more difficult to pass your budget if you -- the cap because you need to get to 60%. Super majority which is very very difficult. Are so that's one factor I think another factor this year is that tax freeze in the tax rebate program. Where district that he paid within their cap. -- residents would receive a rebate from the state for the tax increase especially you have no capital increase. Since the state will be -- being -- for whatever accretion so I would have extra credit I think that did make it differently and many school districts. So you know I think that school board members understand. That. You know they need to keep -- and let these low for the -- remember that they also have to implement common core. There's a lot of you know new standards coming into play for school districts in math and English science so. It's always a balance and school boards do the best job that they -- to meet the educational needs of students but also. Making sure that they do go to the party taxpayers can afford. Again -- some of the numbers I see three districts near county there were able to actually cut spending. Yeah up again. You know we are learning that that losing teams statewide. And we also have to acknowledged the work that the governor and state legislators did. It and providing it additional billion dollars Bob and the outlook the governor proposed school district and that that also made a big difference I think it helped many districts. You know keep those tax let these low. My point though -- those three were only three districts on the roughly thirty in Erie county if you look at the cost of doing business for school districts in the health insurance. It is something that increases annually. Retirement cost increase annually. On gas and fuel and heating. All increased and so it it it's difficult for schools are to be able to actually reduce their tax -- for those that can. You know that's wonderful certainly for those taxpayers. But across the board you know expenses generally rise you know just like for -- mortar. You know typically expenses increased every year. And that's true for school districts as well. Do you think then the voters will actually and a passing most of these budgets on Tuesday. We don't think that will be a positive result I think school board members are optimistic. Their budgets will tap on the first try again when you look at 96% of districts staying with and the cap. You know that is usually a benchmark. And we find that the overwhelming majority of districts that let's stay -- -- -- you're past their budgets. On the first try so we're optimistic that -- happen and I think you know a couple of other things really are important to mention. What is that. Our school districts are continuing to use their reserve funds I believe it's ninety whatever percent of school districts are dipping into the rainy day fund so. They still are using their reserves in order to keep tax -- slow and still meet rising expenses so there's a lot of different. Strategies that schools are using the that's important to note that school board members understand how important it is to keep those tax Levy increases to a metal ball. And so that's why we see them using reserve funds. Any other time we've talked in past years I know districts have dipped into their reserve funds before are we seeing that well run dry yet. Well you know for some district says it may well be. You know. Obviously districts are trying to manage that as much as they can because that is their rainy day fund and you don't wanna get into a situation where you have -- laughed because as you concede 97% districts. You know using reserves it is a strategy. That school districts use to keep their -- -- -- -- work. So we haven't done a full analysis yet of any district that may be in the dangers now as far as getting very low reserves. But you know we're hoping of course that. You know in future years they're able to view. Get substantial vastly increases as they did this year so that they don't have to dip too heavily in reserves and maybe just use a smaller portion. And uses state aid to keep their tax Lebanese war. And the other point is sharing service as we're seeing more and more sharing of services we recently did a poll. A school -- officials who are largely the folks responsible for putting the budget together school district. And about 66%. The business officials who responded to -- serving and just under 300. -- hold that they they're district will be sharing services are planned on sharing services with another district next year. And so I think that's important -- school districts are really trying to be efficient and they're trying to run their districts are cost effectively. So we're seeing our transportation as as well. Probably one of the biggest areas where schools assurance services but also -- or scholastic athletics. Special education and technology who services even teachers so I think that's an important message out there that. Schools have gotten the message that yes you know we need to economize where are we can't and I think that they are -- that -- Mr. Albert thanks for your time. Okay my pleasure that's David Albert with a New York State school boards association.