Southold school district outlines $31.3M proposed budget for 2020-21
Officials in the Southold Union Free School District presented a proposed $31.3 million budget for 2020-21, which is expected to remain within the tax cap.
Charles Scheid, the assistant superintendent for business, outlined reserves, fund balances and revenues in the budget presentation for the next academic year at a Board of Education work session meeting Wednesday.
The budget, which is subject to change, maintains two full-time security guards at each school, programs and staffing, Mr. Scheid said.
The district’s tax levy cap, or the total amount of property taxes a school district must collect to balance its budget, is 2.57%.
Revenues raised by the district through property tax, or the levy, can increase no more than approximately 2%, or CPI, the Consumer Price Index, whichever is less, plus several exemptions. This year’s CPI in Southold is 1.81%.
The district is expected to receive $1.8 million in state aid — only 0.87% more than last year — and $130,000 in federal aid for the NJROTC program, Mr. Scheid said.
Not long after Superintendent David Gamberg announced his retirement in January, district officials announced they would pursue the search for a new superintendent for Southold separately from Greenport schools. Mr. Gamberg had served in that role for both districts.
As a result, Southold will see a $75,000 drop in revenue, or 26%, Mr. Scheid said, for no longer sharing the superintendent.
The districts share services through an intermunicipal agreement established in 2013. They are expected to maintain the three other shared administrative roles: director of educational technology, plants and facilities administrator and business official.
There’s also a significant spike in the revenue coming from shared sports between Greenport and Mattituck. Southold is expected to get 59% more revenue this year.
That number can fluctuate simply by which district is hosting each sport, Mr. Scheid said, and can cover chaperones and benefits. Expenses and revenue for shared sports are based on enrollment.
The district will also receive $210,000 from the shared NJROTC program and $146,500 for miscellaneous. Approximately $300,000 will go toward appropriated fund balances, or money that is given back to the taxpayers, Mr. Scheid said. Years ago, appropriated fund balances was nearly $1 million — but this year it was set to fit in with this year’s tax cap.
As of June 2019, the district had $9.2 million in its seven reserve funds. This year’s budget will take $332,250 from the retirement, worker’s comp, unemployment and employee benefit accrued liability reserves, Mr. Scheid said.
Approximately $169,000 will be directed toward tuition, or transporting New Suffolk students and some special education students in Greenport.
This year’s budget also includes $120,000 toward capital expenditures, which cannot be converged with the district’s reserve funds.
Employee health insurance is expected to increase by 3% — which is relatively low, Mr. Scheid said.
Another budget presentation will take place Wednesday, March 11, to review what programs the budget will fund.
Voters in the Southold school district will see an additional item on the May ballot.
The Board of Education unanimously approved a proposition Wednesday that recreates a district-wide Capital Reserve Fund.
The reserve is for the purpose of “rehabilitating, renovating, replacing and improving district facilities, buildings, structures, vehicles, systems, and installations,” as per Education Law section 3651. It will be funded up to $9.5 million over a 10-year period.
The reserve is not new, Mr. Gamberg said. The previous 10-year capital reserve, which was funded up to $8.5 million, concluded June 2019, he said.
That previous reserve funded roofing repairs throughout the district, Mr. Gamberg said, and offset the cost of the district’s most recent $9.8 million capital improvement bond, approved in 2015, by about $2 million.
The reserve can only be established if approved by voters and money cannot be taken from it unless also approved by voters, Mr. Gamberg said.
There’s currently $3.4 million in the reserve that will carry over if approved by voters.
Board president Paulette Ofrias suggested that if the proposition is approved, funds be placed in local provider Bridgehampton National Bank instead of Capital One, which has seen branch closures, she said.