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Hilton Garden Inn - Stony Brook

Rocky Point hopeful to make state levy cap


District hosts first budget hearing, outlines plans


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Schools Superintendent Michael Ring said the district plans on presenting a 2013-14 budget that is within the state’s mandated tax cap. Photo by Matt Calamia

January 16, 2013 | 04:32 PM
Rocky Point schools Superintendent Michael Ring said the district intends to present a 2013-14 budget that complies with the state-mandated tax levy increase cap, a year after asking the community to override it.

At Monday's budget hearing, Ring said although the district does not yet have any figures regarding what its cap will be, "we believe, based on projections, that we'll be able to maintain this budget within the tax cap."

Last year, the district's $71.6 million budget exceeded the cap, which required the support of a supermajority, or 60 percent, of voters. District voters approved the budget with 62 percent in favor.

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Rocky Point Board of Education President Michael Nofi. Photo by Matt Calamia
Ring said districts across the state are hurting financially for many reasons, including decreased state aid and increased costs of both pensions and health insurance.

According to the superintendent, the district expects to receive about $22.5 million in state aid, about $2 million below its peak in 2008.

Ring said the district's priorities for the next school year are maintaining existing instructional programs while adding Advanced Placement classes. He said the district hopes to add two new AP courses beginning next year.

"Those will both be in … languages other than English," he said. "That will bring the total number of additions over the past three years to a total of eight Advanced Placement courses added to the portfolio we had before."

Ring also said the district plans to continue all of its athletic and co-curricular activities at all levels.

In a PowerPoint presentation at the workshop, School Business Official Greg Hilton and Susan Wilson, executive director for educational services, outlined the district's proposed 2013-14 expenditures.

The largest increases for the district are expected to be for employee benefits.

Wilson projects increases of more than 9 percent to district's obligations to the New York State Employees Retirement System, as well as nearly 34 percent for the state Teachers' Retirement System.

She also projects benefits costs to increase about $1.5 million over this year's costs.

Personnel costs, including teachers, staff and other employee salaries, are expected to increase about $800,000.

Hilton said general administration costs, which include training for employees, legal fees and insurance, would decrease by about $10,000 from the current year, while transportation costs, including after school and special education services, would increase roughly 2 percent, or about $105,000.

He said the district's debt service is also declining this year by about 1 percent. The largest chunk of debt is from the construction of the district's middle school.

"We will continue to see, year-after-year, the debt decreasing as we go along," Hilton said, adding that the total debt for the middle school should be paid off by the 2023-24 school year.

Wilson said the district's building and grounds expenditures are projected to decrease by approximately $44,000 thanks to energy-saving initiatives and new contracts with companies dealing with pest control, HVAC services and drain maintenance.

Board of Education President Michael Nofi said he's always impressed with the work the administration does come budget season.

He said they "really do the best job they can in order to ensure we run a very fiscally responsible district while continuing to provide the best programs we can for our students."

Nofi reiterated Ring's stance on the state tax levy increase cap.

"It is a goal of the district to stay under that cap," he said.

The next budget workshop will be held on Feb. 13, at 6 pm, at the Frank J. Carasiti Elementary School in room 135.

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