By Mark Reynolds
Last week Highland School Business Administrator Lindsay Eidel kicked off the 2023-24 budget season with the first of many presentations that will eventually lead to the May 16th budget vote by the public. Her first presentation focused on the property tax levy.
Eidel said in December she met individually with the Principals and with each of the department heads.
“I talked about their current budget and expenses and what they thought next year was going to look like,” she said, adding that she will finalize some figures with them in the next few weeks.
Eidel said the tax levy is a portion of the overall budget and is calculated by a formula that was given to the district by the state 12 years ago. The first part is the Tax Base Growth Factor and is based upon real property and the town’s tax base. For the 2023-24 school year the rate provided by the state is 1.0151.
Eidel said the next part for consideration is the PILOT [payment in lieu of taxes] agreements and how they figure into the final levy number.
“This is an agreement between a business and Ulster County, and it comes to establishing a lower tax payment for those fledgling businesses; another portion that factors into this formula,” she said.
Eidel also touched upon the Allowable Growth Factor, “commonly referred to as the 2% cap, which mirrors inflation.” It can follow inflation below 2% but it cannot exceed 2%.
Eidel said there are also Exclusion Amounts that come into play, such as Tort Judgments, Capital Levy, employee and teacher retirements [ERS & TRS]. The latter two items, however, are not issues for Highland next year.
Eidel said a rough estimate of the proposed tax levy for next year is $31,847,027, which is $1,210,275 [or 3.95%] higher than the 2022 levy.
Eidel laid out a timeline for the next few months: in January the Governor releases her Executive Budget proposal numbers; on February 21 the school board will discuss State Aid and Revenues and on March 1 the school board will submit their 2023-24 calculations of the tax levy limit to the Office of the NYS Comptroller.