School Budget

The Lansing Board Of Education received an update Monday on its $29,220,000 2017-18 budget.  Business Administrator Mary June King said that current estimates show a property tax levy increase of about $493,570 (2.87%).  That will keep the $17,656,022 levy barely below the state-imposed tax cap.  King said that under-spending this year's budget will provide funds needed to fund next year's budget beyond the levy amount allowed under the tax cap.

"I am projecting that we will be appropriating $530,000 to make the budget.  That's because we are limited with the levy.  We are at least that good in our operations this year.  My assumption is we will appropriate to the tax cap -- we will go as far as we can with the allowable tax cap.  Our budget is going to be $29,220,000.  I'm hoping to bring that down a bit."

King said three additions to the upcoming budget include $365,000 in salaries, an increase of $491,000 in BOCES regular and special education costs, and $284,000 in debt service.  She said that staffing modifications are still under discussion, and noted that the debt service is entirely offset by an increase in state aid.

"Our BOCES numbers are increasing dramatically," she said.  "We're consuming about $350,000 of that increase this year.  Fortunately we are under-spending some other budget areas.  I'm able to shuffle those dollars into BOCES.  When people move into the district and have the needs they bring with them, we need to be ready to spend those dollars."

King showed the Board two projections relative to the value of the Cayuga Power Plant that will impact homeowners.   The value of the plant is currently being negotiated between the Tompkins County Industrial Development Agency (IDA) and plant owners.  King said she believes that value will be determined before the end of this month, and said she is confident the plant will not close entirely.

Over the past two years New York State has mailed checks to property taxpayers equal to the difference between the current year's tax and previous year's.  King said that will change this year.  Instead of asking taxpayers to pay the tax and receive a refund later, a flat $185 will be deducted off of qualifying tax bills for STAR or Enhanced STAR qualified property owners with an annual income equal of below $275,000.  She said this credit would be part of the STAR program in future years as well.

As of Monday King estimated the tax rate change will be 0.35%, a rise from the current $20.52 to $20.59 per thousand dollars of assessed property value.  She noted that the numbers she presented do not reflect appropriations for a BOCES capital project, saying that a plan to use refunds from BOCES payments over the next two years would pay Lansing's share of that infrastructure project.

King promised more details on the budget at the March 27th Board Of Education meeting.  The Board will vote on whether to approve the budget on April 10th.  District voters will decide on whether to approve the budget May 16th.