TUPPER LAKE — Despite sports and staffing cuts, Tupper Lake Central School’s proposed 2013-14 budget exceeds the allowed tax cap.
That means the budget needs at least 60 percent public approval in next Tuesday’s vote.
The tax levy of $7,923,391 is up by 8.35 percent, according to School Superintendent Seth McGowan.
“The cap is 4.76 percent,” he said. “This levy is above the cap.”
The proposed total 2013-14 school budget is $17,233,794, up 7.64 percent.
Most of the cost increases are connected with federal funding cuts to special education and Title I instruction.
“The instructional costs are up because federal money was cut, placing salaries for teachers who hold those positions next year in the general fund budget. That accounts for about $300,000 in additional cost,” McGowan said.
State Retirement Fund payments went up 16.25 percent, adding about $328,000 in benefit costs.
The district pays into the Retirement System to help fund pensions for teachers, bus drivers, custodians and staff.
“We have no say as to what that (pension increase) number is going to be. It has nothing to do with the number of people retiring,” McGowan said.
Health insurance for the district increased 20 percent, despite Tupper Lake’s shared health-care purchase agreement with the Board of Cooperative Educational Services.
“The cost of all employee benefits — and we’re not alone — makes up 30 percent of our budget,” the superintendent said.
“The total increase in employee benefits is $1 million. That is proportionally the same in every district. The employee benefits are being sucked dry by the health-insurance industry. If this country would tame the cost of health care and health insurance, nobody would be talking about the high cost of education anymore.”
STATE AID DOWN
Increasing costs of benefits are exacerbated by the continued decline in state aid, which, for Tupper Lake Central, removed some $1.2 million in revenue for next year.