A recent decision in the New York State Budget Office is giving the Seaford School District a slight boost as they prepare to try and craft a budget within the new 2 percent tax cap rule passed by Albany lawmakers last summer.
Seaford Superintendent of Schools Brian Conboy said during his administrative report at Thursday night’s Board of Education meeting that the state is now allowing districts to use actual spending figures rather than a budgeted amount when determining a capital levy. As a result of this decision, which came about at a request from the Roslyn School District, Seaford will be permitted to increase its tax levy 1.44 percent for the 2012/13 school year. Two weeks ago, Seaford had learned that a complex formula built within the tax cap law when it comes to building aid its tax levy hike to just .68 percent.
“It’s still not great… but it’s better than .68 [percent],” said Conboy during his report at Thursday’s meeting held at Seaford Harbor School.
After learning that Seaford may be limited to only raising its tax levy .68 percent, Conboy contacted Assemblyman David G. McDonough, R-North Merrick, and State Sen. Charles Fuschillo, R-Merrick, informing them of the unique budget circumstances the district is facing. Conboy has since spoken to state education leaders and was informed that Seaford’s situation is “a budget anomaly”. He said a group has formed in Albany to review specific budget anomalies related to the tax cap.
“We don’t know if we can give any optimism to something in our situation that might change but we’re hopeful that smart people will take a look at our numbers and figure out that we sort of have a strange situation that most other districts aren’t dealing with,” Conboy said.
Seaford had to post its tax-cap related figures for the 2012/13 school year by March 1 but Conboy pointed out that the numbers can be edited if further guidance is provided by the state.
Seaford has been operating on a contingency budget this year after voters rejected proposed spending plansand . The district began the process of piecing together its budget proposal during Thursday’s meeting with presentations on the issue of technology spending, transportation and facilities. The school board is scheduled to hold weekly meetings throughout March exploring avenues the district can save in different departments.
Annmarie Lynch, co-president of Save Seaford Sports, a group last summer with the aim of raising the $141,000 needed to restore the Seaford Middle School winter and spring athletic seasons after they were cut from the budget, is hopeful that voters will approve this year’s spending plan.
"I know our taxes are high but voting no does not change anything, it only hurts the kids,” Lynch said. "Voting no is hurting our school district making Seaford an undesirable place to live. We are only hurting ourselves by voting no."