Huntington school district has begun preparing for budget season.
Superintendent Jim Polansky discussed the state of the 2016-17 budget on Feb. 11, and said the district will have to work hard to create a budget that stays within its 1.68 percent cap on its tax levy increase.
A rollover of programs from the 2015-16 budget would put the district above that cap, and would cost about $2 million more than last year’s budget. That figure comes from an increase in health insurance costs for the district and other personnel items, despite an expected savings of almost $1 million in pension costs, according to Polansky.
As of Feb. 29, the district’s $122 million working budget was still about $132,000 over the allowable limit, meaning that costs need to be cut or additional revenue needs to be found to close the gap. Polansky has said that the district’s goal is still to adopt a budget that comes in below the cap on the tax levy.
“These are decisions that have to be made by the board as we move forward over the next couple of months,” Polansky said at the Feb. 11 meeting.
Piercing the tax cap, which requires a super majority vote of 60 percent from the community, is probably not an option.
“I don’t think that the board is interested in piercing the cap at this point,” Polansky said. “I will state that on the record even though we haven’t discussed it.”
To help matters, the district is also expecting an increase in state aid, due to a partial restoration of money lost to the Gap Elimination Adjustment, a deduction enacted several years ago that cut into state aid for New York school districts in an effort to close a state budget deficit.
The district has additional budget meetings coming up on March 14 and March 21. The vote to adopt a 2016-17 budget will take place on May 17, at which point the budget will be sent to residents for approval.