received its first look at the district's proposed spending plan that, in its initial form, would increase spending by 2.1 percent over last year's budget.
It is merely the first step in a three-month-long process of adopting a spending plan that will ultimately be decided May 15 by the voters.
District officials presented the board with a detailed analysis of the proposal at Monday night's meeting.
assistant superintendant for business, and, deputy superintendent for human resources, provided the board with a detailed, line-by-line accounting of where the district's money is being spent and why.
Their efforts were praised by the board, which closed the meeting by adopting the preliminary plan. "That's what we were looking for," said Trustee "To do more with what we have."
The highlights included:
- The preliminary budget - a working document - calls for $137 million in total spending, a 2.1 percent increase over last year's spending. The figure is actually below the state's so-called "Tax Cap" law figure for Plainview and, if adopted in its present form, would need only pass with a simple majority of the general electorate.
- Under this early stage plan, the tax levy -- the amount of money to be raised from property taxes -- would increase by 2.5 percent overall. Individual taxes will vary depending on changes in personal assessments.
- District staffing will remain essentially the same. A small reduction in overall staff is actually in the proposal.
- Ongoing building improvements, necessary purchases, and curriculum initiatives will be continued.
The state's trumpted 2 percent "tax cap" is actually determined by a complex formula that was changing as late as last week, Ruf said. The actual "tax cap" for Plainview would be higher than 2 percent, an estimated 3.23 percent, Ruf said.
Plainview-Old Bethpage's tax levy increase -- if this budget was adopted now -- would be under that figure, at about 2.5 percent.
If your head is spinning from the mathmatical gymnastics, you're not alone. Many school officials expressed concerns Monday night about the state's formula and fear that misunderstanding among the public will be widespread as the school budget votes approach in May.
Essentially, the 2011 tax cap law requires districts to present budgets under their own designated tax cap figures for them to be approved by a simple majority vote of the general electorate.
A school district can present a budget proposal to the voters exceeding the tax cap limit, but such a plan would have to pass with a 60 percent majority, Ruf said.
Months of hearings and adjustments will follow on the budget -- there are three sessions scheduled in March alone -- before a final draft is adopted by the board and presented to the public in May.
The district is operating without the benefit of actual state revenue figures. The state won't have those hard numbers for weeks, or more, Ruf said.
Patch will provide a more detailed explanation of the "Tax Cap" law and how it effects Plainview's budget in the coming weeks.