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School Board Looks Ahead to Budget

In this era of financial constraints, it's never too early for some advance budget planning. During its meeting this past Monday night, the Huntington School Board was told that as of now more than $2.5 million in reductions will need to be made to the next year's carry-forward budget to comply with the two-percent lid on tax increases under the state's tax cap law.

Huntington Superintendent James W. Polansky presented a comparison of the general outlines of what a rollover budget would look like compared to one that meets the requirements of the tax cap law. The figures were compiled by David H. Grackin, the district's assistant superintendent for finance and management services.

The current year's budget totals $109,037,301. To continue running an identical program next year would require a rollover budget that amounts to $113,450,000 or an increase in spending of $4,412,699. However, the two-percent tax cap will limit the increase in spending to $1,880,164, forcing cuts now projected at $2,532,535.

The tax rate currently set at $207.15 per $100 of assessed valuation would rise to $211.29 under the tax cap legislation. The $4.14 rise in the tax rate compares to an increase of $9.72 in the rate for the rollover budget.

The rollover budget projections made several assumptions, including increases in health insurance and state pension expenses, so-called "step" salary increases for qualifying teachers in accordance with the state's Triborough law, an increase in transportation costs, no increase in state aid, flat assessed valuation and no mandate relief legislation being enacted.

Mr. Polansky pointed out the district is carefully studying its transportation costs and noted there may be a "nominal" increase in state aid for the 2012/13 school year. He also said that the district's assessed valuation could further decline "as a result of additional tax grievances."

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