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Seaford Facing Rosier Budget Conditions than Year Ago

District facing less cuts thanks to big boost in state building aid.

Despite a projection to receive a lesser percentage increase of state aid than other Long Island school districts, Seaford is in a far stronger position than a year ago in preparing a budget to put before voters this May.

State aid figures released by Gov. Andrew Cuomo this week show Seaford receiving $136,602 in additional funds from Albany, a 1.69 percent increase from last year. While this figure is less than the average Nassau County district state funding increase of 3.2 percent, Seaford superintendent Brian Conboy explained during his administrative report at Thursday night’s Board of Education meeting that a higher than expected amount of building aid from Albany will provide a major boost. When factoring in the building aid, which was provided thanks to  projects completed from Seaford’s 2007 $21.5 million capital improvements bond, the increase from Albany is at 22 percent, the highest in Nassau County.

“The building aid number that we got was higher than I expected, a good deal higher,” said Conboy during his administrative report at Thursday’s Board of Education meeting held at . “We're happy about [the building aid increase] but at the same time we’re very concerned that other aid number wasn’t larger.”

Seaford’s building aid number released this week is $2.2 million compared with  $513,000 the district received last year. Conboy said as a result of the extra building aid and increased revenue, Seaford is looking at an estimated $552,000 to cut in order to preserve all current programs and staff compared to $2.2 million they were faced with trying to slash a year ago after the district lost $1.6 million in Gov. Cuomo’s budget.

As a result of a new property tax bill last year, Seaford along with all districts throughout the state is limited to raising its tax levy 2 percent plus allowable exceptions, which includes some mandated retirement expenses. In Seaford’s case, the maximum tax levy increase when factoring in allowable exceptions is estimated to be 2.44 percent, according to Conboy. This would equate to a 5.38 percent budget-to-budget increase if the school board opted to go that route, Conboy said.

Some of the known increases Seaford is faced with when crafting its budget proposal include medical costs, retirement expenses, workers compensation and debt repayment for the 2007 bond, Conboy said during his administrative report.

Last year, Seaford voters rejected proposed spending plans on  and  forcing the district to operate on a contingency budget for the first time in six years. Seaford’s current operating budget is $54.8 million.

Lorraine DeVita January 27, 2012 at 12:43 PM
Once again, Seaford as well as all school districts in NYS will be faced with the ever growing medical, pension and workman comp costs. These combined annual costs increase expotentially to create an unfair burden on the taxpayers of this state and greatly impacts the quality of education for the students. . Real reform is needed on the state level including the elimination of the Triboro Amendment to allow School districts the opportunity to negotiate new contracts FAIRLY and equitably. Taking salaries out of the equation, our biggest debts present and future are escalating retirement costs which are crippling the economies both locally and on the state level. While eliminating existing plans would not be the answer nor fair to those currently covered it is imperative that the legislature develop a new pension policy for all new hires including 401k , 50-50 medical costs, increasing the pension elegible retirement age to 62 , eliminating step increases, and basing pension only on actual Salary "Earned" . Step increases should be eliminated and a bonus or merit pay policy needs to be implemented which would NOT be figured into retirement calculation as it is not a guaranteed annual increase. Additionally depending on the AGE at retirement there should be a pro-rated precentage formula :ie if retired at 55 the individual receives 60% of their pension culminating in full benefits at age 65. Bascially the younger you are @retirement the less you get in a pension.
Wayne Smith January 27, 2012 at 02:17 PM
The numbers when it comes to pension costs are incredibly scary. Estimates for just the Teacher Retirement System alone indicate that taxpayers will be on the hook for contributions that will have to quadruple within five years, just to ensure that the plan is funded. When you combine that with other public employee pension plans, that cracking sound you'll be hearing is the sound of taxpayers' backs being broken, to say nothing of the sound of slamming doors as businesses continue to close up shop and move out of the state. Defenders of public pensions will accurately point out that New York's public employee pension plans are constitutionally guaranteed - the only state to do this. But constitutions can be amended and I think we'll see the day when this will be given serious consideration. Cuomo's proposal for pension reform, even if enacted, will do little to forestall the maelstrom that we will see over pensions in the years ahead, since most of his proposal is focused on future hires. For a different approach, take a look at Rhode Island, where the fiscal pressures became so acute that the state had no choice but to implement reform affecting not only future employees, but current pension participants as well as current retirees. Rhode Island is a much smaller state to be sure, but its pension liabilities were also much smaller. The bottom line is that when you're out of money, you're out of money, regardless of what the constitution says.

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