Lake Placid school board unveils first draft of ’21-22 budget

Lake Placid Middle-High School (News photo — Andy Flynn)

LAKE PLACID — Members of the Lake Placid Central School Board of Education on Tuesday, Feb. 16 received a first draft of the district’s spending plan for next school year, which would increase the tax levy by nearly 1.7%.

District Business Manager Dana Wood unveiled this tentative budget before the regular meeting. As it stands now, the tax rate would increase by about 12 cents per $1,000 assessed real property value. That number could change depending on the updated property assessments.

“The final number doesn’t get determined until basically August anyway, once the final tax roll comes in,” Wood said during the virtual budget work session. “It all depends in the end on what the tax roll comes in, on what is our overall value of property within the community.”

If the tax roll stays the same, this draft budget would bring an increase of $24 for a property assessed at $200,000. The current tax rate is $7.25 per $1,000 and would increase to $7.37 per $1,000.

The tax levy currently stands at $16,991,568, an increase of $281,568 or 1.685%. That is the maximum allowable for the district by the state, based on the district’s calculated tax levy limit.

Total spending for the 2021-22 school year would be $20,562,590, an increase of $584,126 or 2.92%.

Almost all categories of the proposed budget would see an increase in spending. Below are the spending amounts and percentage changes as they stand now.

– Benefits: $5,975,264, up 4.22%

– School programs: $16,138,482, up 3.84%

– BOCES: $1,466,277, up 3%

– Administration: $1,579,385, up 2.96%

– Salaries: $9,135,960, up 1.88%

– Debt service: $1,791,309, up 0.46%

– Capital: $2,844,723, down 2%.

When drafting their spending plans, school officials said they focus on the following: students first and foremost, education, community outreach and involvement, leadership, technology, improving school culture, reducing the opportunity gap and financial responsibility. Issues that arose in 2021 are the pandemic, economic uncertainty, federal aid to states and the fund balance (funds budgeted for but not spent during the current fiscal year).

Wood said he expects state aid to be $3,336,256, an increase of 5.52%, building aid to be $450,698, and a possible fund balance of $71,186. What the final fund balance will be has yet to be determined.

Other unknowns include BOCES costs (to be released in early March), final state aid (to be released April 1) and the district’s approved property tax levy cap.

The next step is for the district to report its calculated tax levy cap to the state comptroller by March 1. School board members will see a second draft of the 2021-22 spending plan during the March 16 budget work session and will see a final draft on March 30. They plan to adopt it on April 20.

Public hearings on the budget will be held on May 4 and 11, and the plan goes before voters on May 18. The school’s fiscal year begins on July 1.

Watch the school board meetings on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCYCuD5SOK2eM6kBJPtjVvvA.