The Whitehall Board of Education presented its proposed 2013-14 budget to the public and is eyeing a tax increase of 2.19 percent.
The increase is driven largely by a 9.5 percent spike in the cost of employee benefits. The district will pay an additional $381,724 for employee benefits. Nearly three-quarters of that amount is the result of an increase in the district’s contribution to its employer and teacher retirement systems.
“That’s a big expense, particularly the teacher retirement system,” Joseph Karas, district business manager said.
The amount the district is expected to contribute to the teacher’s retirement system is expected to jump from 11.84 percent to 16.25 percent and the district’s total contribution to both teachers and other employees’ retirement system will increase by approximately $300,000.
All told, the district will pay $4,389,472 in employee benefits, a figure that represents 32 percent of the total budget.
Total appropriations or expenses are proposed to increase by nearly 529,000 or 4 percent, from $13,205,125 during the current school year to 13,733,984 next year.
A portion of that increase will be covered by a 5.71 percent or $418,000 bump in state aid. Nearly 57 percent or $7,758,036 of total revenues will come from state aid.
A 2.19 percent increase in the tax levy will generate for the district another $110,132 in revenue bringing the total amount to be raised by taxes to $5,127,850.
Karas said the 2.19 percent increase complies with the state-mandated two percent property tax cap because some expenses don’t count against the cap.
The district will also use $300,000 from its appropriated fund balance, $60,000 from its employee benefit reserve, $253,098 from its employee retirement reserve fund and $50,000 from its unemployment reserve fund.
Although final tax rates aren’t available until August when equalization rates and assessment figures are finalized by New York State, residents of Whitehall, Hampton, Fort Ann and Granville who live in the Whitehall School District can expect to pay $10.28 per $1,000 of assessed value. Residents of Dresden will pay twice that amount—$22.35 per $1,000—because that community’s equalization rate is only 46 percent, meaning the assessed valuation of the all property is less than half its true value.
Residents of the district will have an opportunity to vote on the budget from noon to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, May 21, inside the large group instructional room at Whitehall High School.
Voters will also choose a new board of education member. Bruce Wescott’s five-year term ends next month and he is not seeking another term.
Frank Barber was the only candidate to submit a petition to run for the board, and barring the emergence of a write-in candidate, will be elected later this month.