New York State has set the New Suffolk School District’s tax levy cap at a roughly 3.5 percent increase, the district’s school board reported at Wednesday night’s meeting.
Board president Tony Dill said the district had their cap on the tax levy — the total amount the district can collect from taxpayers — set higher than other local districts because of “excessive pensions costs.”
There is a higher teacher to student ratio at the tiny New Suffolk School District than other surrounding districts, he said. So when pension costs jumped from about 11 percent of salary costs to 16 percent, the district was allowed by the state to have additional space under the cap, Mr. Dill said.
Mr. Dill said the district is “trying very hard to stay within that limit.”
Last year, the tax levy rose by 15 percent after seven students moved into the small district the year before, forcing the district to deplete reserves to pay for their tuitions.
New Suffolk Elementary School teaches students from kindergarten through sixth grade. When students complete their education at the school, they are sent to either Mattituck or Southold School districts to be taught at those high schools. The district then pays those districts — about $18,500 per student in Southold and roughly $17,000 per student in Mattituck — to educate the teens.
Student tuition rates are the largest line item in the New Suffolk district budget, Mr. Dill said.
The district has begun discussions on how to trim costs from this year’s school budget, he said. Talks will continue for another several weeks, he added.
“We’ve been going over things on a line-by-line basis to see what some of the mandated costs are likely to be,” Mr. Dill said.
However, since student tuitions cannot be altered and must be paid, the district has to look to the main school for ways to cut costs.
“When we’re looking to make cuts, we’re not looking very far,” Mr. Dill said.
The board will present its final school budget at its meeting on April 9, district officials said.