March 20, 2014

P'burgh City School talks tax-levy limit

PLATTSBURGH — Plattsburgh City School District must work with a tax cap that is significantly lower than in years past. 

The district’s 2014-15 levy limit, which awaits approval from the Office of the State Comptroller, has been calculated at .16 percent, an increase of $32,545. 

“It is approximately, or effectively, a zero increase,” City School Associate Superintendent Jay Lebrun told the board at a recent meeting. 

The district’s 2013-14 levy increase was 2.49 percent; its allowable limit was 5.58 percent.

The board, Lebrun noted, will have to discuss whether it wishes to put before voters a 2014-15 budget that exceeds the cap. 

Each percentage increase in the levy generates about $203,000, the associate superintendent said. 


For a spending plan exceeding the tax cap to pass, it must have at least 60 percent voter approval, while a budget within the limit requires only a simple majority. If a district’s first proposal is voted down, it has one more chance to pass a plan before it must go to a contingency budget. 

In May 2012, city residents voted down the school’s proposed 2012-13 spending plan, which exceeded its then-3.01 percent cap by more than 2 percent. Voters later approved a plan for that year within the limit. 

While the district’s allowable tax-levy increase for 2014-15 is minimal, Lebrun noted, health-insurance rates are set to go up 3 percent; Workers Compensation, 8.5 percent; and Teacher Retirement System, 9.2 percent.

The school does not know its salary costs for next year because contracts for both its teachers’ and administrators’ unions are currently open. 

The district’s known expenditures, combined with the state aid figures reflected in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Executive Budget Proposal, Lebrun said, create a budget gap of about $2.7 million. 

However, he noted, “that’s not uncommon for this time of year. That will change.”


The district is still waiting for some very important information, Lebrun continued, that “will ultimately define how big our gap and how serious our gap is and remains.”

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