Pension costs impacts possible tax hike in Hamburg School District
Thursday March 14, 2013 | By:Steve Dlugosz | News
Hamburg School District officials are moving forward in tweaking budget plans for the 2013-14 academic year, presenting at last Tuesday’s (March 5) budget workshop a pair of fiscal schemes that would offer differences in terms of hypothetical tax levy increases based on pension contributions.
District Superintendent Steven A. Achramovitch and Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources & Technology Dr. Richard Jetter took part in outlining district budgetary figures. It was stated that district officials had pared down a handful of fiscal plans to two budget scenarios, both of which contain identical revenue assumptions totaling $27,104,478. Full state aid amounts of $21,380,578 are entailed in both plans, to go along with sales tax monies at $3,600,000; appropriated fund balance reserves of $750,000; proceeds from sales of property in the Town of Boston and on Pleasant Avenue amounting in roughly $150,000; reserves each from the areas of Employee Retirement System, unemployment and debt service in amounts of $100,000 apiece; and “other” revenues totaling $923,900.
Additional symmetries as part of both fiscal plans include enrollment-driven reductions of three elementary teaching positions, one teacher aide (through attrition of retirement) and two teacher retirements. It was added that $80,000 in savings would be accumulated from the aforementioned teacher retirements, at $40,000 for each teacher. However, the noted “Budget A” layout contains reduced ERS and TRS contributions, at 12 percent and 12.5 percent, as per the Governor’s Pension Reform Proposal. Meanwhile, “Budget B” entails full ERS and TRS contributions at 20.9 percent and 16.2 percent, comparably. Budget “A” expenditure revisions project a total district budget of $59,705,066, representing a 5.49 percent increase from 2012-13 and a dollar hike of $3,107,109. A resulting tax levy of $32,600,588 (with no noted exclusions) is hypothetically slated for Budget “A,” representing a tax levy increase of 2.5 percent and a monetary hike of $799,239, or $744,008 over the tax cap levy limit.
Budget “B” projections include a total expenditure budget of $61,190,329, symbolizing a 8.11 percent increase from 2012-13 and a dollar hike of $4,592,371. A resulting tax levy, emerging from noted exclusions, is noted at $34,085,851, representing a tax levy increase of 7.18 percent and a monetary hike of $2,284,502, or $1,709,927 over the tax cap levy limit.
Achramovitch reiterated that passing any budget that contains an increase over the established tax cap- scenarios currently presented by both “A” and “B” budget layouts in Hamburg- requires 60 percent voter approval. The superintendent stated that district officials are stressing a fiscal plan that protects programs for children and maintains school-related learning opportunities for the pupils.
Such parameters include continuing the following programs to be preserved: finance academy with the development of a health-science academy, Global Leadership, current athletics, current extra-curriculars, and development of Common Core curriculum and assessment alignment. Maintaining reasonable class sizes and preserving art and music opportunities were other mentioned items.
The Hamburg Central School Board is slated to adopt the district’s 2013-14 budget at its April 16 meeting. It was further stated Tuesday that the state will not withhold $450,000 in aid for Hamburg schools- monies originally thought to be lost for the current academic year from the district after the Annual Professional Performance Review plan did not pass in January- because of a related lawsuit filed by parents of children in the New York City School District, where the APPR plan also was not passed. Such funds were said to be incorporated as a revenue source in Hamburg.
Increases to the 2013-14 budget from the current academic year are slated in the areas of wages, from $27,721,041 to $28,967,748; health insurance, from $5,547,459 to $5,824,202; ERS, from $1,210,265 to $1,425,779; TRS, from $2,488,121 to $3,544,394; special education out, from $885,000 to $1,690,000; FICA, from $2,147,164 to $2,242,740; and debt service, from $3,176,706 to $3,637,538. Utility expenditures are projected to decrease, from $1,224,200 to $1,175,000. ERS and TRS increases are described by Achramovitch as being hikes that are not controlled by district officials.
Additionally, state aid losses for Hamburg over the last four years are slated at $8,937,368; while federal aid losses are noted to be $4,341,876 over the last three years. Fund balance and reserve appropriations in the district over the last five years are totaled at $7,065,000. And an average tax levy increase of 4.5 percent has accompanied district budget planning over the past four years. A potential loss of $59,059 in federal aid funds is projected for the district because of the Sequestration.
“We will continue to look at the (overall) revenue picture,” Achramovitch said in reference to progressing district budget planning.
Various tweaking is slated for Armor Elementary School, with staff projected to be decreased by two. Overall elementary staffing among full timers at the district’s four elementary schools is slated to decrease from 76 to 73, with an average class size of 20.5 students projected per room.
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