With budget season approaching, White Plains school officials are doing what nearly every school board in the state is—playing limbo with Gov. Andrew Cuomo's two-percent tax cap.
School officials, parents and taxpayers met last week for a preliminary public forum on the 2013-14 fiscal plan, and will continue to hammer out budget details and options until the May vote rolls around.
The 2012-2013 budget came in at $188,822,000, and current expense trends would place the 2013-14 budget at $194,850,000.
But the Cuomo-imposed cap requires a $193,600,000 budget, which translates into $1,250,000 in cuts.
The two-percent cap is a ceiling on the tax levy, or total dollars in property taxes. It is not a cap on budget expenses.
Teacher and administrator salaries are the cardinal focus of this year's proposed spending, claiming a 50.7-percent stake. The projected increase in salaries this year is $1,750,000.
Close behind are entitlements, with 24.5-percent of the budget allocated for employee benefits. Retirement system costs are expected to rise by over $2 million.
Debt service, utilities and repair, and BOCES expenses all come in at under 10-percent each.
At a meeting last week, White Plains residents took to brainstorming what programs and services may be slashed. Among the suggestions: freshmen sports teams, and any non-mandated, unpopular activities.
Restructuring staff to save money was also discussed, like changing some full-time positions to part-time positions, or having more custodians work day shifts.
Other suggested cost saving measures included charging for use of school fields, sharing services with other schools and implementing a more austere electricity use regimen.
March 17: Community response forum @ White Plains Library, 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
March 20: Community response forum @ High School room B-1, 7:30 p.m.
April 8: Board adopts proposed 2013-14 budget @ Education House, 7:30 p.m.
May 13: Public hearing on adopted proposed budget @ Education House, 7:30 p.m.
May 21: Budget/school board vote