As another budget season takes shape, Warwick Valley Schools District Superintendent Dr. David Leach announced the “good news” that there would be a zero-percent increase in the tax levy for the district’s proposed budget for 2021-22.
The superintendent said that he expects the proposed $98,620,042 school budget will stay within – or below – New York State’s mandated tax cap, at the board of education’s regular monthly meeting that was livestreamed on YouTube on April 8.
The district has stayed at or below the mandated tax cap for its budgets since the 2014-15 school year.
The school board’s previous budget presentations on Feb. 4 concerned the budget development process and a long-range planning study, and (a little prematurely, according to Leach) New York state aid; the BOE discussed projected revenues, payroll and benefits, transportation and the condition of its bus fleet on March 4; and at last Thursday’s meeting covered a revenue update, expenditures and propositions.
Leach reiterated that the student population is expected to be stable “for about the next decade.”
He also noted that, while aid from New York State is “a smaller piece of the pie” for Warwick based on the government’s wealth formula, aid is still “significant” in terms of the district’s revenue.
As ever, the administration’s goals remain staying within the property tax cap, while preserving educational opportunities for students in the district.
Impact of COVID-19
As teachers, staff, students and families have had to adjust for the past year to the realities of COVID-19, the pandemic has created a ‘new category’ in terms of budget considerations, as there was a greater need of cleaning supplies, UV lighting, masks, spray bottles, temperature and additional teachers and staff, plus the use of technology to accommodate remote learning.
“We made some significant reductions” in other parts of the budget, Leach said, in order to head off aid cuts.
Revenues and state aid
Leach added that current NYS aid “almost matched” current Covid-related expenses.
“Each year, we’re on pins and needles” regarding state aid, but “this year was especially concerning.” However, “It’s looking much better (in the coming year) for schools.” (State aid currently accounts for 27.5 percent of the school budget.)
Still, he said, foundation aid is “significantly under-funded,” but he expects a full phase-in should come in the 2023-24 budget year.
Leach said that, as regards non-tax sources of revenue for the district, it’s “nice to see it grow every year.”
Currently, WVCSD receives $4,016,314 in revenue from non-tax sources: about 73 percent (or $3.05 million) comes from tuitioning out-of-district students and income from renting district properties.
Per Governor Andrew Cuomo’s legislative budget, WV schools are projected to receive $28,479,978 in state aid, a near five percent increase from the current year. ($415,800 for Universal Pre-K was deducted from the 2021-22 totals.)
The bulk of the district’s revenue comes from school taxes, or $64,146,212 – a $3,200 increase from the current budget (which is directly offset by the library bond levy of $3,200).
Leach said that while to overall budget is increasing, the tax levy (the taxpayers’ portion) is not increasing, because “Foundation Aid is being restored to where it was many years ago,” due to the federal stimulus/recovery funds and state aid.
For more details regarding the budget, please go to the WV district website:
Regular meeting: overview, adoption of budget, property tax report card – April 22, conference call livestreamed via YouTube, 7 pm.
Budget hearing May 6, conference call livestreamed via YouTube, 7 pm.