Based on a preliminary look at spending, the Greenport School District is expected to avoid piercing the tax cap for its 2017-18 budget, Superintendent David Gamberg said.
“We’re in quite a different position than we were in last year, relative to the process,” he said Tuesday night during a Board of Education budget workshop.
The district pierced the tax cap with an 8.52 percent increase in the tax levy last year, with voters approving a $17.9 million budget. The allowable levy limit for the 2016-17 fiscal year was just 0.77 percent, or $98,320.
Stressing that the numbers are subject to change, district business administrator Frank Mazzie and assistant superintendent for business Charles Scheid projected a tax levy increase of 3.8 percent, or $524,361, for the 2017-18 school year, with a tentative total budget of $18.2 million. That figure reflects a 1.72 percent increase over the current school year.
Mr. Mazzie and Mr. Scheid have met with district department heads to see what they could realistically accomplish on their wish lists next year to determine an “acceptable and fair budget,” as well as a tighter spending plan, Mr. Scheid said. They are developing the budget by looking at revenue first rather than expenses, he added.
Mr. Gamberg said that’s a good foundational start, although it’s far from a complete process. He said he hopes to meet with state Sen. Ken LaValle about potential state fund increases for Greenport, something that typically occurs within each district this time of year.
School board member Daniel Creedon said he thinks creating a junior high girls soccer team and expanding the district’s pre-kindergarten program should be top priorities for the district next year.
The superintendent noted that Greenport absorbs the entire cost of the pre-K program with no state support, something he hopes to discuss with Mr. LaValle. When it comes to expanding the program, there are other limits besides the budget — such as space — to consider.
The school board will have another budget meeting April 4 before adopting a spending plan April 18. The school budget vote is scheduled for May 16.
Photo: Greenport School District Superintendent David Gamberg at Tuesday’s budget workshop. (Credit: Kelly Zegers)