Yorktown Central School District administrators are already thinking about next year and they have begun work on the 2013-2014 school budget, but school officials are worried about expenses outside of their control.
Superintendent Ralph Napolitano said the district is still operating under the 2-percent tax cap, which was enacted last by the state legislature and was pushed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo as a way to control spending.
"The concern that of course we have, and we share with the board, is that while that 2-percent tax cap is in place, we can't cap expenses that come our way," Napolitano said during the Dec. 3 school board meeting. "Many of those expenses are outside of our control."
An example of those costs are the two retirement plans the district has no control over – Teacher Retirement System and Employee Retirement System, Napolitano said. In the 2009-2010 budget, the district's contribution was about 6 percent. In 2013-2014, Napolitabo anticipates that contribution to increase between 15.5 and 16.5 percent.
Assistant Superintendent of Business Tom Cole said that when you're looking at a total of $42 million salaries – every 1 percent increase equals more than $400,000.
"When you're looking at increases at that kind of range, it's very significant," he said.
Napolitano said people aren't talking about the state's unfunded mandates as much anymore.
"Until we shine some kind of light on that, we are always going to have these discussions," he said. "This is not about wanting to make the taxpayers pay more – that's never been our goal. This is about maintaining an outstanding education and all of the influences that affect our budget that we don't control."
School board president Jackie Carbone said one reason why people aren't discussing unfunded mandates is because [they] keep making it work.
"I can’t imagine there's too much left to cut in the budget without severely affecting program at this point," Carbone during the school board meeting.
Napolitano said the district will continue to work hard to obey the cap, not overburdent the taxpayer or underscore what Yorktown education. Even though, he said, this is "becoming more and more difficult."
To watch the Dec. 3 school board meeting, click here.