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Southold school district unveils $32M school budget proposal

Southold Union Free School District’s proposed 2022-2023 budget will increase 1.9% from last year’s, according to district assistant superintendent for business Charles Scheid.

Details of the $32.2 million spending plan were unveiled at last Wednesday’s Board of Education meeting. An additional budget presentation will be held next month.

Last year’s budget totaled about $31.6 million.

“I didn’t really shoot for 2%, it’s just how it worked out,” Mr. Scheid said during his presentation.

The proposal includes a 1.71% increase to the tax levy, bringing the total to $28.5 million, compared to last year’s $28.1 million.

The budget maintains current programs and staffing, including two contractual district security guards, Mr. Scheid said.

Health insurance costs are estimated to increase 4%, which was lower than expected, he said.

“For a little while we thought it was 10% so with the pandemic, I was a little concerned with the health insurance,” he said. There is also an estimated increase in the teacher’s retirement system employer contribution rate. It would increase from the current 9.8% and rise to 10.29%, Mr. Scheid said.

Under the proposed budget, the district would tap into a total of $446,000 from their reserves to offset costs.

For taxpayers with an average assessed valuation of $7,000, taxes are projected to increase $111 for 2022-2023 school year, according to Mr. Scheid’s presentation.

There will also be a transfer to the capital line of $110,000 in next year’s budget, Mr. Scheid said.

He added that it might be beneficial to look at the capital line each year and increase the capital line for their potential projects rather than take out a bond since the district is paying off a $9.8 million bond that was approved by voters in 2015.

“We have a bond that’s going to be paid off in 13 years or so,” Mr. Scheid said. “We’ll have to see, there’s a discussion, do we need to increase our transfer to capital line, [and] do our projects instead of bonding it,” he said.

In terms of revenues under the proposed budget, the only categories staying the same as last year, according to the presentation, are the shared services personnel and shared sports. The shared services personnel will remain at $85,000 and shared sports at $20,000.

There will be a direct reduction in the tax revenue to the budget because of the $184,705 from the payment in lieu of taxes revenue the school received. The NJROTC program went up 2.5%, increasing to $205,000 from last year’s $200,000.

Tuition revenues will be lowered by 8.63% to $201,150 from last year’s $220,150.

“I’m trying to be less reliant on tuition because that was the guidance I was given,” Mr. Scheid said.

State aid will increase slightly to about $1.94 million compared to $1.9 million last year. The bulk of that revenue will be from the district’s foundation aid.

A second presentation was held March 9 and a third presentation is April 13, when the board is expected to adopt the budget. The vote to approve the budget will be May 17.