While the town prepared for snow, Mount Sinai school district is preparing for another school year and another budget.
With the 0.12 state tax cap limiting how much a school districts can increase their budgets for the 2016-17 year, Mount Sinai residents will pay around the same in taxes. The district is maintaining its current programs and necessities, like transportation, with its $57.2 million budget. But it’s a guessing game when it comes to the school’s proposal.
“We’re basically shooting in the dark — not knowing what’s going on with the state,” Superintendent Gordon Brosdal said. “So we try to plan as best we can for what we’re going to be faced with.”
The district budgeted for around $16.5 million in aid, but Sweeney says they don’t know how much state aid they’ll receive. The school is currently following Sen. John Flanagan’s (R-East Northport) effort to nix the Gap Elimination Adjustment.
Since the 2010-11 fiscal year, the GEA has reduced every school district’s budget to combat a fiscal crisis in the state. Mount Sinai is currently losing around $1.24 million per year to the GEA, but it may regain revenue for the 2016-17 academic year if the government repeals the law.
“They owe us eight years worth [of money],” said Robert Sweeney, president of the Mount Sinai board of education.
With a tax cap of nearly zero, the district doesn’t intend on increasing its tax levy. The school district will maintain its $38.5 million levy from the 2015-16 academic year, despite its 0.7 percent budget increase. According to Brosdal, increases in administrative charges were one of several items that affected the budget. The school district is also devoting more money to technology and transportation.
Brosdal added that the district will have to make some cuts before finalizing its budget. He didn’t specify where they will make those cuts, but said they will discuss the budget further during the Feb. 10 board of education meeting. The budget workshop will cover personnel items and special education items.
Despite the low tax cap, the school district plans to stay within the cap, unlike some other districts. Brosdal said “there are many districts that will probably pierce the tax cap” for their 2016-17 budgets. But for now, it’s a waiting game to see how much state aid and wiggle room school districts will have to cater to their budget.