On May 17, Highland residents will be asked to vote on a $48,998,581 budget for the 2022-23 school year. The budget is required to be broken into three expense areas: Administrative at $5,058,771 represents 10% of the budget; Programs at $36,568,492 is the majority share of the budget at 75%; and Capital at $7,371,318 is 15% of the total budget for next year.
Highland’s Business Administrator Victoria McLaren said that the revenues and expenses balance for next year’s budget. In a slide presentation she said the expense of $17,830,175 for next year covers the district’s benefit expenses for those who are actively employed by the district as well for retirees. This also includes the district’s debt payment of about $3.3 million and $100,000 to support the school lunch program.
McLaren presented another way to look at the chief expenses of the district; Adding the payroll expenses of $21,907,419 to the Benefits costs of $14,405,092 brings the total to the $36.3 million, which is just shy of 75% of the entire budget.
McLaren noted there is a $1,055,964 increase in state aid to the district next year. There is also an increase of $33,877 in their Payment In Lieu Of Taxes program, pointing out that, “these are agreements reached by the Ulster County Industrial Development Agency with fledgling businesses that are starting within the community, with two in this budget.”
McLaren said there is a decrease in the amount of Appropriated Fund Balance by $150,000 for 2022-23. She said previously the school board had agreed to not decrease it by this amount, “but because we got an increase in state aid I was able to do that. I knew that was a priority for the board and I wanted to honor that.”
The tax levy for next year is $30,636,752, which is an increase of $733,249 or 2.45%.
‘That is within our tax levy limit as dictated by the state. Despite the fact that the Consumer Price Index [CPI] is actually over 4%, we are only allowed to use the calculation that incorporates CPI at 2%,” she said.
For next year McLaren said the district is increasing the use of the Debt Service Fund budget to budget [$97,595].
“The prior year’s budget had included a transfer of $158,000, which we did not actually utilize in the current year, but we are budgeting a $256,000 transfer in from our Debt Service fund,” she said.
McLaren noted that all of this brings a total budget to budget increase of $1,864,924 or 3.96%. The prior year increase was 4.87%, calling this a, “good trend.”
McLaren also highlighted the district’s revenues that are expected in 2022-23: NYS aid (budgeted) $16,123,474, an increase of $1,055,964; Federal Aid (Medicaid) at $150,000, up from $65,000 and Other Revenue Sources at 638,260, up by $9,239. She said this ‘other category’ includes the district’s refund from BOCES for services they do not use; tuition from other school districts if Highland has students from outside the district; interest and earnings as well as interest and penalties from late tax payments.
A revenue of $256,110 will come from a transfer from the Debt Service Fund and $1,150,000 will come from the Fund Balance that will be applied to the budget.
McLaren provided a slide to show the increased dollar amounts residents will pay over the current year’s budget: On a home assessed at $100,000 the annual increase is $60.77; on a home assessed at $200,000 the increase will be $121.54; a home at $300,000 will see an increase of $182.32 and at $400,000 the increase will top off at $243.09. She stressed that these estimates will be close to the final amounts and were calculated using 2021-22 Town of Lloyd assessment and equalization rates.
Residents will also be asked to vote on a school bus proposition that will also appear on the ballot: one 65 passenger school bus, one 30 passenger school bus, one wheel chair accessible vehicle and one four-wheel drive vehicle at a maximum cost of $322,000.
The budget vote is scheduled for Tuesday, May 17 from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the High School Band Room.