Dear District Residents:
Happy New Year
I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season. New Year is now upon us, and I’m looking forward to building on our successes from 2015 and add to those accomplishments, as well as evaluate what did not work as well as we had hoped and improve that. On January 18, I will begin my sixth year as your superintendent. I’d like to thank everyone for making these past five years so wonderful. It is a very challenging and difficult job. The support I have received from the Board of Education, the students and staff, and the members of the community have made it all worthwhile. I am looking forward to 2016 and many years to come.
2016-2017 School Budget
Over the next four months, the Board of Education and administration will be creating a budget that will be fiscally responsible and continue to offer the students of CCS the quality education that has become expected. It will be a challenge to meet the high standards that have been set with continued declining resources. Although the projections again this year do not look good, it is our hope that the state will live up to its’ constitutional responsibility of providing a quality education for all students in New York State will be keeping you up to date as we move through the budget season; and if you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to call me.
2016 Tax Cap
New York’s property tax cap law establishes a tax levy limit for each school district. The tax levy limit allows school districts to increase their property tax levy from one year to the next by two percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is less, based on a multi-step formula. School districts are then allowed to take certain exemptions that may boost their tax levy limits to more than two percent or the inflation rate.
If a school district’s proposed tax levy increase is within its limit, a simple majority (50 percent) of voters is needed for budget approval. If a school district’s proposed tax levy increase exceeds the tax levy limit, a supermajority of voters – 60 percent or more – would be required for budget passage.
With that as a backdrop, I would like to explain the situation we are in this year because of what we have done to save the district money. mentioned in the paragraph above, districts are allowed exemptions to boost their tax levy. One of those exemptions is debt. The more debt payments you have relative to the year before, the higher your tax levy can be. I think everyone can agree that paying cash for something is a lot cheaper than taking out a loan and paying interest on it.
The problem with the tax cap is it encourages the district to increase debt in order to raise taxes. My hope is our community understands this is a flawed practice and they will support the plan of action we have taken to save the district money, and in the long run, save each taxpayer money.
Our plan of action is to go over the tax cap this year. In the 2015—2016 budget, we used $385,760 of fund balance to pay off the loans on three buses, which saved a great deal of money in interest payments. By doing this, our debt went down and so did our tax levy limit. The estimated tax levy limit for the 2016—2017 budget is -$264,926. That is -15.99 percent. For the district to stay under the tax levy limit, we would have to decrease taxes by 15.99 percent.
Decreasing taxes by 15.99 percent and having to make up for the $264,926 in lost revenue would require us to look at some major cuts in staffing and programs. While sustainable for a year or two, this would almost certainly lead to the demise of our school as we know it. Immediate changes to be considered would include: dramatic increases in class sizes in all grades by cutting staff, reductions in critical administrative and support staff positions and the elimination of athletics.
In summary, by doing the fiscally responsible thing by paying off debt we are asking you to support a budget with a modest tax increase that will require 60 percent supermajority to pass. you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call me.
Thank you for your continued support of our district.
Scott N. Connell, Superintendent
The Assistant Principal, Pamela L. Ratliff, Copenhagen Central School, P.O. Box 30, Copenhagen, NY 13626 (315-688-4411)is the Coordinator for the Dignity for All Students Act.
The Guidance Counselor, Copenhagen Central School, P.O. Box 30, Copenhagen, NY 13626 (315-688-2573) is the Alternate Coordinator for the Dignity for All Students Act.