Saugerties School District Presents Preliminary 2022-23 Budget

Saugerties Central School District (SCSD) officials revealed a preliminary property tax increase of 2.7% for the 2022-23 school year.

SCSD Business Manager Jane St. Amour presented a preliminary spending plan at a special school board meeting on Tuesday, March 15, expressing concerns about numerous variables that could impact the district’s financial health. in 2022-23.

“I’m worried about a few things,” St. Amour said. “One is inflation, not just gas prices. And also a shortage of important supplies, especially paper, which we consume a lot here. And the food. In addition, a shortage of bus drivers still exists. And interest rates.

According to St. Amour’s calculations, the maximum allowable tax levy for 2022-23 will be $42,643,696, an increase of $1,121,366. Raising the tax levy by 2.7% or less would require a simple majority of more than 50% to pass their budget in May. If the district presented a budget to increase tax levies, it would need the support of a supermajority of 60 percent or more.

St. Amour also identified a likely decrease in state aid of $1,369,290, or 5.8%, from the 2021-22 total of $23,537,616. She added that the decrease was not alarming.

“This is mainly due to the decline in construction aid,” St. Amour said. “A drop in construction aid also corresponds to a drop in debt service on the expenditure side of the budget, so these two things offset each other.”

State aid elements are actually expected to increase in 2022-23, St. Amour said. Foundation assistance is expected to increase from $16,002,807 to $16,537,054; transportation assistance should increase from $2,000,968 to $2,309,298; and high-cost aid of $387,990 to $444,406. The decreases mainly relate to BOCES grants ($1,332,395, a decrease of $450,338) and construction grants ($305,207, a decrease of $1,634,298). The decrease in construction aid is explained by the last payments for previous equipment projects in the district.

St. Amour’s preliminary budget calculations show a projected total of $66,948,950, an increase of $411,985, or 0.62%. The largest increases are seen in the administration of BOCES and an upcoming capital project, increasing the district’s share from $957,126 to $1,292,639, a jump of 35.05%.

Other increases include a 26.3% increase in technology costs to $1,467,294; a 10.35 per cent increase in school board and central administration costs to $1,807,826; and an 8.82% increase in sports and extracurricular expenses to $608,009, partly due to the addition of sports chaperones.

The debt service line is the only decrease in the preliminary budget, down 58.04% to $1,126,544. But there are also other savings. With the closure of Mt. Marion Elementary School at the end of the 2021-22 school year, the SCSD will cut the salaries of one principal, five elementary school teachers, three special education teachers, one teacher of physical education, the equivalent of 9.5 full-time. teaching assistants, a typist and 2.5 monitors, a total saving of $1,188,533.

For the 2022-23 school year, the district is using federal COVID stimulus funding to cover the costs of two response teachers, two tiered support teacher systems, a reading specialist, a student dean , two literacy coaches, two math coaches, a credit recovery specialist, a director of programs and instruction, an accountant, four teaching assistants, a maintenance worker and a social worker.

The district will also maintain current year staff additions of an athletic trainer, elementary psychologist, part-time clerk for the office of special education, and coordinator and benefits advisor.

Proposed additions in the 2022-23 budget include an elementary librarian, a reading teacher, an elementary teacher, a secondary language teacher, a secondary special education teacher’s aide; and two high school STEAM/CTE teachers, one majoring in business and the other in technology.

The preliminary budget did not include certain costs, in particular those which remained to be determined.

“We make our (fuel) bids on an annual basis, so we typically bid in June for the upcoming winter season, and then we typically set a price that we prepay for the summer,” St. Amour said. “But if we think waiting a month or two would get us a lower price, we might wait and make that offer again.”

Health insurance costs have mostly been established.

“As a consortium, we just decided on health insurance rates for most of our employees and most of our retirees,” St. Amour said. “There will be an increase for active employees of about 5.1% for premiums in this group, then a decrease of 7-9% for our retirees over 65. So overall the rate increase is about 1.5% for the district for this health insurance group.

In its current configuration, the preliminary budget shows a deficit of $141,360. St Amour identified a number of ways this could be overcome, including waiting for the New York state legislative budget to see if state aid will increase more than expected. It is also possible to use the fund balance and reserves, reduce the budget or increase the tax levy beyond the ceiling.

The school board is expected to establish the budget at its regular meeting on Tuesday, April 12. A public hearing on the budget will take place on Tuesday, May 10, and voters will decide the fate of the spending plan a week later.

Julio V. Miller