Penn Yan School budget increase twice current tax cap

Gwen Chamberlain The Chronicle-Express

If Penn Yan Central School officials adopt the same budget for 2016-2017 as the spending plan adopted for this year, the local costs would increase by over $1 million or 3.34 percent, more than twice the state’s calculated tax cap for the district.

“We realize 3.34 (percent) is not in the realm of what we want to think about,” Superintendent Howard Dennis told the Penn Yan School Board last week.

Dennis and Cathy Milliman, Assistant Superintendent for Business, presented a first look at the budget at the Jan. 27 school board meeting.

They said they have begun the budget process by working with the district’s leadership team to create a list of items that might be possibilities to consider for the upcoming year. None of the items on that list are included in the figures in this presentation of what they call a “roll over budget.”

They are having preliminary discussions about staffing levels, and have started meetings between department chairs, grade level chairs and principals.

Things that are going to have an influence on spending in the next school year include:

• The tax cap, which, at 1.77 percent, appears to give the Penn Yan School District more breathing room than the tax cap expected by other school districts;

• Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA)restoration, which is still $340,000 less than what the district needs, according to Dennis. The GEA, an amount of aid that is deducted from what the state allocates to school districts, helps the state fill its revenue shortfall, but by doing so, shifts more costs to the local district.

• Health insurance costs are expected to increase by 8 to 10 percent

• Affordable Care Act requirements

• Workers Compensation

• Salaries

To work with the same spending plan without going over the tax cap, the district will have to eliminate about $300,000 in spending, or find alternative sources of funds.

Dennis and Milliman were joined by Kelly Houck of the Dundee Central School District in a meeting with State Sen. Thomas O’Mara and Assemblyman Phil Palmesano to discuss Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget. Planning and meetings will continue, and Dennis and Milliman will give an updated report at the board’s Feb. 10 meeting

According to NYS Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli’s Fiscal Stress Monitoring System, 82 school districts have been designated as “fiscally stressed.” The scores are based on the evaluation of 672 school districts with fiscal years ending on June 30, 2015. No Yates County school is on the list.

Eight school districts are in “significant fiscal stress,” 24 in “moderate fiscal stress” and 50 as “susceptible to fiscal stress.” A total of 90 districts were listed in one of these three categories last year and 87 were listed in stress the year prior.

Also at the Jan. 27 meeting, the board of education met with representatives of SEI Design Group in a facilities workshop.