Haldane Board Approves Budget

Property tax levy would rise 2.44 percent

By Michael Turton

Haldane Board of Education trustees approved a proposed 2012-13 budget at their Tuesday, April 10 meeting that will raise property taxes 2.44 percent if voters approve it on May 15. According to a “Property Tax Report Card,” presented at the meeting, the trustees approved an increase in spending of 1.38 percent – for a total of $21,927,476 in 2012-13. That in turn would result in the 2.44 percent increase in the local tax levy – the amount of money raised through property taxes – a total of $17,462, 504.

New York State has imposed a so-called 2 percent cap on the tax levy but in reality the actual amount varies among school districts according to several factors. Haldane’s cap for this coming budget year is is a 3.16 percent increase; the proposed increase is  .72 percent less than that allowable limit. “We are not even getting [state] aid consistent with the cost of living,” said Superintendent Mark Villanti referencing a 3.2 percent rise in the Consumer Price Index.

State aid to Haldane has been reduced by about $500,000 in each of the past two years and officials expect more reductions next year.  For the budget being proposed for 2012-13, reserves and an unspent fund balance deferred decisions on cuts. Both administrators and trustees have warned that continued reductions in state aid in 2013-14 could have a severe impact on education and/or athletic programs since federal funds provided through the stimulus package and Jobs Bill are no longer available.

Board president Joe Curto praised administration for their work on the proposed budget. “You guys did a good job, keeping it [cuts] out of the classroom,” he said. “The Gap Aid [reductions in state aid] is the gorilla in the room and I still don’t know why the governor just doesn’t admit it.” The proposed 2012-13 budget is available on the Haldane website.

3 thoughts on “Haldane Board Approves Budget

  1. Please note that while the proposed tax levy increase is 2.44%, the projected (estimated) tax RATE increase is 1.95%.

    The final tax rate is determined in early August after NYS equalization rates & local assessments.

  2. It’s like sitting down for a scary movie. You just know you are going to scream at some point, but I just had to see why it went up again. I found 5 that made me scream.

    1. So much postage!!! Thousands on every other page! Why? When so much is allocated for computers/service!
    2. An incredible cost to taxpayers for “sports”
    3. Custodial salaries!
    4. Yikes – $70,000 in cleaning supplies?
    5. $40,000 MORE for custodial “miscellaneous projects”

  3. Dear Editor,

    For the fifth straight year, Haldane has managed to keep its tax rate increase below 2%.
    The recently adopted budget by Haldane’s Board of Education will mean that property taxes will only increase an estimated 1.95%. It is a spending plan I can support for its creative cost-cutting and sensitive consideration of the needs of our district.
    To achieve this spending plan the Board:

    • started work last year on contract discussions and successfully negotiated adjustments to employee benefits;
    • realized savings from employee retirements as new hires will sign on at lower salaries;
    • used fund balance and some rainy day reserves;
    • temporarily eliminated one staff position; and
    • refinanced high school debt.

    These conservative efforts by the Board and Superintendent Villanti can only go so far, however. The greatest threat to the fiscal health of our district rests with the Gap Elimination cut to our state aid. For Haldane this means over half a million dollars in reduced revenue. In the past few years, the district has weathered this reduction with careful budgeting and also by applying federal stimulus funds. As of this year, the federal revenue has run out. This year, and for the foreseeable future until Albany substantially reinstates funding which the Gap Elimination took away, the district will likely experience drastic cuts to meet annual budgets under the new tax cap.

    Please vote on May 15 for the school budget, and please support the returning Board Trustee candidates Evan Schwartz and Peter Henderson so that they may continue their work as conservative stewards of our school budget. Also, write to Assemblywoman Sandy Galef, Senator Greg Ball and Governor Andrew Cuomo to request the reinstatement of state aid. Without reasonable state support, our school and schools across the state face a bleak future of severe cuts to programs.
    Julia Famularo
    North Highlands