LATHAM — The proposed North Colonie $134.9 million 2022-23 budget would increase spending by nearly 8 percent, or $9.9 million, over this year’s $125 million spending plan.
Of the increase, the district is proposing to raise an additional $1.3 million from the property tax levy, or a total of $90.7 million next year. That represents a 1.44 percent hike in the tax levy which equates to about a .5 percent increase in the tax rate. The state imposed tax cap for the 2022-23 year is just less than 3.6 percent.
The tax rate increase represents $21 more per year for the owner of a home with a taxable assessed value of $150,000, $28 for a home assessed at $200,000 and $42 for a home assessed at $300,000.
“We are providing additional staff and additional programming and I think it represents our values as a school district and I think we can present that in a fiscally responsible manner,” said Superintendent Joseph Corr about the proposed budget. “Of the schools in the Suburban Council we have the second lowest tax rate only to Saratoga.”
The district is proposing to hire the equivalent of 20.4 fill time staffers for a total cost of just less than $2 million. Five of the new teachers will be on special assignment and paid with federal stimulus money. Those positions will be evaluated next year and may or may not be deemed necessary when the grant money runs out.
Next year, the district will get another allocation of the total $9.3 million made available in three different federal grants. But, after the 2023-24 year, all will expire and there is not any indication of it continuing.
“We used the federal money for a variety of things associated with COVID like HVAC work and paying for PPE [Personal Protective Equipment.] We did use it for the hard goods, if you will,” Corr said. “In addition to that, we have to have a plan to fund a number of temporary positions through the general budget with the realization that they are temporary and will have to be evaluated next year.
“We have to look at the fact that when the funds run out we may not have money to afford some of these positions and we don’t want to fall off the fiscal cliff. We have a plan in place for when the funds do run out and that is why we have temporary special assignment positions and other things in place so we can plan accordingly.”
All told, should the budget get approved as is salaries in the district will increase by 4.8 percent, or $3.4 million from $70.4 million this year to $73.8 million in 2022-23. Fringe benefits, like health insurance, would increase by 8.2 percent, or $2.8 million from $31.9 million to $34.6 million.
Text books would incesease by abot 3 percent, or by nearly 15,000 from $492,000 to $507,000. And Debt service for the district wide renovation project constitutes 1.9 percent of the total increase, or $2.3 million
Like districts across the state, North Colonie will see a bump in state aid next year. According to the recently passed budget out of Albany, state aid flowing into North Colonie coffers will increase by 30.2 percent, or $8.4 million to $36.4 million.
Prior to last year we were getting only 48 percent of the foundation aid that was due,” Corr said. “Last year it was 60 percent and this year it was 80 percent and next year we are promised to go to 100 percent. But it is not in the state budget yet so we have to be wary of money that is promised.”
School districts are not isolated from the impacts of inflation, Corr said, and pointed to projections that would see gasoline costs for the district increase by nearly 115 percent to $580,000 and operations and maintenance increase by nearly 27 percent to $619,500.
The budget will go to a referendum on May 17.