School budget will bump up taxes

School budget will bump up taxes

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Port Jefferson High School. File photo by Elana Glowatz

School officials in Port Jefferson have finalized a budget that carries a slight increase in taxes and maintains the status quo in classrooms.

The board of education adopted a $41.4 million spending plan during its meeting on April 12, a number that represents a small decrease from the current year’s budget total — nearly $1 million — despite the opposite trajectory of taxes.

That divergence stems from a change in spending next year. In a presentation to the board, Assistant Superintendent for Business Sean Leister said the district would not spend as much on capital projects next year and should see a drop in its debt repayments. The new high school elevator, which has yet to be completed after being funded in the current year’s budget, was one big-ticket item that would not be repeated in 2016-17, Leister said.

Those expense decreases will help offset increases in other areas, such as health insurance payments, utilities and transportation costs, the district said.

Also helping out in the budget, which will maintain academic programs and staffing levels, is an increase in state aid, which Leister estimated at 4.68 percent for Port Jefferson.

After years of deducting aid funds from school districts around New York through a cut called the Gap Elimination Adjustment to balance the state budget, legislators this year restored the aid dollars — giving Long Island school districts a $3 billion boost, when added to other increases in state aid.

With the adjustment eliminated, Leister said the district is able to put its share of the money toward online professional development, special education integration in the elementary school and updating its voting system.

Taxes will increase $0.81 next year for every $100 of assessed value on a property within the school district.