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Governor unveils executive budget; Arkport faces initial budget gap of $55,000

On Jan. 15, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo presented a state budget proposal that included a $956 million school aid increase for 2019-20. The bulk of the governor’s proposed increase is in two major categories: $338 million in additional Foundation Aid, which is the primary source of funding for everyday school operations, and $619.7 million to reimburse districts for designated expenses such as transportation, construction and BOCES services.

The unveiling of the executive budget proposal formally begins budget negotiations between the governor and the New York State Legislature, with a final state budget due on or before April 1.

The executive budget shows Arkport next year receiving a total state aid allocation of $7,238,077, which represents an increase of $678,135 or 10.3 percent over this year. More than a third of that increase (over 36 percent) would come in the form of expense-driven aids, which are reimbursements for money the district already spent on BOCES services, transportation and building projects. The governor proposes to increase Arkport’s foundation aid to pay for everyday school operations by $68,762 – or 1.5 percent.

Because a less-than-2-percent bump in aid for everyday school operations will not cover the increased costs associated with providing an education in Arkport, including contract salaries and employee benefits, the district faces an initial budget gap of about $55,000. The district will be exploring several options to realize savings, including reducing some BOCES services and possibly leasing instead of owning school buses.

The budget picture will come into sharper focus after the district learns more about its employee health insurance costs and the finalized state aids figures for next year.

The school district’s property tax levy limit is 2.48 percent. This is the highest increase in local property taxes that can be approved by a simple majority of voters. Anything higher would require approval by a supermajority, or at least 60 percent of ballots cast. The annual school district budget vote and Board of Education election is Tuesday, May 21, 2019.

The state’s Property Tax Cap law would become permanent under the governor’s plan. Adopted in 2011, the law limits growth of local property taxes, including those for local school districts, to 2 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is less. Final tax levy limits for school district are also subject to a number of variables.