YORKTOWN, N.Y. – Budget season is on the way, and it could mean significant cuts for the Yorktown Central School District as state-imposed expenses continue to rise under the 2-percent tax cap.
“I can’t imagine there’s too much left to cut in the budget without severely affecting programs at this point,” said board president Jackie Carbone at the Dec. 3 school board meeting.
The district operated under the 2-percent tax levy cap in 2012-13, but Superintendent Ralph Napolitano said the constant flow of state mandates might be too much to handle without either overriding the cap or cutting programs.
“This is not about wanting to make the taxpayers pay more; that’s never been our goal,” Napolitano said. “This is about maintaining an outstanding education, and all of the influences that affect our budget that we don’t control.”
Napolitano cited rising costs of the Teacher Retirement System and Employee Retirement System as a state mandate the district cannot control. Napolitano said that in 2009-10, the district's contribution was about 6 percent. In 2013-14, he anticipates the contributions will rise to at least 15.5 percent.
“The percentages, on their own, seem fairly benign. But on $42 million worth of salaries, every 1 percent equals over $400,000,” said Tom Cole, assistant superintendent for business. “So when you’re looking at increases in that kind of a range, it’s very significant.”
Cole said all the low-hanging fruit has been picked, and he believes any money-saving cuts made now could severely affect the day-to-day operations of the district.
“Until there’s some kind of predictability on these costs that we can’t control, it’s very, very difficult and very challenging,” Napolitano said.
The superintendent plans to sound like a broken record to state officials until Yorktown and all New York schools see some relief from the mandates.
“It doesn’t appear that people are talking about that anymore,” Napolitano said about the state-imposed expenses. “Until we shine some kind of light on that, I think we’re always going to be having these discussions.”