Maintaining educational programs for students is 2021-22 budget development priority

The Fayetteville-Manlius School District 2021-22 preliminary budget is a reflection of the district’s strategic plan, and funding to support each aspect of the plan is included.  

At the current time, district officials expect to receive enough state aid that when combined with savings in the current school year, would require a relatively low tax levy increase to maintain all educational programs offered to students prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“An increase in state aid coupled with the tax levy increase and operational savings from March 2020 through the end of the current school year will allow us to produce a balanced budget without making reductions to any educational programs that we offer students,” said William Furlong, F-M’s assistant superintendent for business services. 

The board is expected to receive budget development updates at its March 8 and 22 meetings and to then vote upon a budget proposal April 19. A public hearing is planned for May 10, and the community will then vote May 18 upon the final budget proposal. 

Foundation aid is frozen

Funding for the district’s operating budget comes from two main sources – state aid and the tax levy, which is the total amount of money the district collects from local property owners. Other smaller revenue sources, such as interest income, make up the district’s remaining revenue sources. 

When New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo presented his 2021-22 executive budget proposal on Jan. 19, it included a total state aid allocation of $21,735,778 for F-M, which is a $1,576,404

increase compared to the current school year. However, foundation aid, which is the district’s primary source of funding for everyday school operations, is frozen compared to the current year for the second year in a row. The increase in overall aid is driven by expense-driven aid categories, such as building aid and BOCES spending, which reimburse districts for funds already expended.  

Included in the executive budget proposal is a $3.9 million allocation for F-M that is dependent upon a stimulus package that has yet to be approved by the federal government.   

The executive budget proposal is the formal beginning of budget negotiations between the governor and the New York State Legislature, with a final state budget deadline of April 1. School districts will not know their final state aid allocations until after the state budget is adopted.

Tax rate increase anticipated to be less than tax levy increase

The district is anticipating increased costs in 2021-22 due to contractual salaries, health insurance, retirement and new debt related to recently completed and ongoing building projects.

Based on its anticipated revenues and expenses for 2021-22, the district is currently estimating  a 2.27 percent tax levy increase for preliminary budget development. Due to projected growth in the tax base, it is anticipating that property owners’ tax rate increases will be significantly lower than the final tax levy increase, Furlong said. 

The tax levy is the total amount of money a school district raises in taxes each year from all property owners in the district. The tax rate is what is used to calculate each individual property tax bill.

For the current school year, the tax levy increase was 3.33 percent. While the tax levy increase was 3.33 percent, the tax rate actually decreased by 0.35 percent for all towns except for the town of Pompey. State aid supported 22.8 percent of the proposed budget while the tax levy funded 74.3 percent.