ISLIP HAMLET

Islip UFSD seeks to pierce tax levy cap

With allowable cap at negative percent, proposed budget requires 60 percent of voter approval

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Community members in the Islip Union Free School District will vote this month on the $88.7 million budget for the 2021-2022 academic year, which carries a tax levy increase of 2 percent.

Although that tax levy increase represents a decrease from last year’s 2.65 percent levy, it’s still above the district’s allowable tax cap of -2.33 percent. As such, at least 60 percent of Islip voters will need to approve this override of the tax levy limitation.

The average Islip taxpayer with a home assessed at $45,000 will pay roughly $190 in school taxes per year or roughly $15 per month, a statement from the district said.

“This is primarily due to what’s referred to as the capital exclusion in the budget, which is the net difference between bond obligations, debt service and building aid,” assistant superintendent for business Michael Zeterberg explained at the May 4 budget presentation. “We had good news that we had the final payment of a bond, but this is where it comes back to work against us, in the formulas for the tax levy.”

Established by New York State, Zeterberg said at a March 2 budget workshop, the tax levy limit determines the tax levy increase for each school district. Each year, schools are required to follow a formula to calculate its tax levy limit, which takes things like tax-base growth factor, payment in lieu of taxes, prior year’s levy and more into consideration. The calculated tax levy limit determines the level of voter support required for budget approval.

The proposed budget has an expenditure increase of 1.37 percent compared to last year. All current programs and services will be maintained under the budget.

“This year, as a result of the pandemic, we had to spend money on personal protective equipment, on increased custodial costs, and on increased staffing due to remote instruction,” a May 4 statement from the district read.

According to another March 16 budget presentation, the majority of the district’s expenditures will go toward instruction. This includes teaching, health services, guidance, curriculum development, supervision, staff development and more. This category totals $48.1 million.

General support costs, which totals $11.6 million, according to a district newsletter, will pay for board of education procedural costs, central and finance offices, personnel, security and more. Transportation will cost the Islip schools $4.5 million this year. Additional spending will go toward employee benefits and debt service.

Some of the new initiatives coming to the district this year include: funding for the transition to Google Classroom programs in curriculum, increased AIS support for students, a new elementary math curriculum, expansion of the leadership program, 7 Habits, to secondary schools; summer school credit report, an Honors Robotics course at the high school; and funding for clubs at the elementary school. Additionally, the budget will provide laptops to all secondary students and bring a licensed practical nurse to each school building.

The budget hearing will take place Tuesday, May 18, from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the Islip High School gymnasium.

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