Early numbers do not a budget make.
That’s the message Shelter Island Board of Education members and new business official, Idowu Ogundipe, delivered Monday night at the initial budget meeting, in which the first draft of costs for salaries and benefits for the 2018-19 school year were revealed.
Before voters get the final say on the school budget in mid May, it will undergo many changes resulting from input from board members and the public through a series of meetings.
The initial proposal projected a $260,346 increase in salaries, up by 4.54 percent from the current year’s spending of $5.73 million. While salaries are contractual, they are based on current expectations that could change as a result of retirements or resignations. In such cases, those leaving could be replaced with people at lower salaries.
Similarly, the cost of benefits is projected to grow 3.91 percent from $3.2 million to $3.3 million next year, a hike of $123,980. Benefits include health insurance, Social Security and Medicare, the Teachers Retirement System and the Employees Retirement System along with a small amount allocated to other benefits.
Final numbers on health insurance premium increases are usually received later in the process, so the district can only estimate the cost at this stage. Amounts payable for benefits to employee and teacher retirement systems may also be affected by new retirements or resignations.
As for the state mandated tax levy cap, that number hasn’t been revealed, but Mr. Ogundipe projects it will fall between 1 and 2.2 percent, depending on capital exclusions such as debt service and building aid.
The district can go beyond the tax levy cap, but if it does, it would require approval of 60 percent voters at the polls in May.
That happened in May 2016 when the proposed 2016-17 budget pierced the cap and made it over the 60 percent threshold by only two votes. It was not something the Board of Education wanted to repeat last year, with members determined from the outset to avoid piercing the cap.
There were no questions from members of the the board or the public about the salary and benefits projections following Mr. Ogundipe’s presentation Monday night.
At the upcoming January 16 budget meeting, Mr. Ogundipe will outline the proposed administration portion of the budget. Other budget meetings are slated for January 29, February 12, March 5 and March 19, all at 6 p.m.
A tentative budget workshop may be held March 21, if necessary. The Board of Education expects to adopt its budget proposal April 18 to be followed by a May 7 hearing and vote on May 15.
The January 16 budget session will be followed by the Board of Education’s regular monthly meeting.