Rydell to keep an eye on state aid package

By Mark Reynolds
Posted 3/13/24

At a previous Marlboro School Board meeting Superintendent Michael Rydell discussed a year to year comparison of the overall budget with a rollover budget: in 2023-24 the approved budget was …

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Rydell to keep an eye on state aid package


At a previous Marlboro School Board meeting Superintendent Michael Rydell discussed a year to year comparison of the overall budget with a rollover budget: in 2023-24 the approved budget was $63,973,392 and if it were rolled over into the 2024-25 budget it would be $65,591,761.

Last week Rydell again touched upon the rollover concept that would, “give us an idea, once again stressing this is if we were to take all of the current positions, all the current programs and those expenses that currently exist and roll it into the next school year, that would be $65.5 million, an increase of $1,618,369.”

Rydell said it is important for the district to, “keep an eye on what does our [state] aid package look like to help us balance the budget.” He said presently the district only has the Governor’s budget to review, while the Legislature is due to approve the state budget by the April 1 deadline.

In the 2023-24 Marlboro budget, Foundation Aid totaled $17,004,229 and for the 2024-25 the Governor has proposed $16,937,120, a decrease of $67,109. Rydell said he has some knowledge of the negotiations that are taking place in Albany, “but we’ve also received word to not expect a large difference or change from what is in the Executive budget [but] nothing is definitive and it is up to the Legislature and the governing body of our state for that final product.”

Rydell touched upon the Tax Cap calculation, indicating that the often touted two percent tax cap is misleading, noting that it would be more ideal to not use a number, “because there are major factors that can really swing what the tax cap is or what that limit would be before you have to go to a super majority.”

Rydell highlighted several factors that play a role in arriving at the tax cap: the district’s prior year tax levy; the district’s growth factor; any Payment in Lieu of Taxes [PILOT] that may exist in the school district; Capital Expenses and some BOCES expenses.

“Those are all involved with the calculation to see what is the maximum tax levy that one can impose and still be approved at a simple majority [50 percent plus 1],” he said, adding that a super majority is 60 percent plus 1. “When you hear the concept of someone ‘piercing’ the tax cap they are saying they are going out for a super majority, to approve a budget over the tax cap limitation.”

Rydell said when the district applies the tax cap formulae to seek a simple majority vote, Marlboro can increase their 2024-25 budget from last year by up to 2.51% but added that the goal is not to max out what the tax cap would be. He reiterated that the rollover budget increase at 2.51 percent would be $1,618,369; the Governor’s executive budget aid shows a decrease of $67,109 and the tax cap calculation would be an increase of revenue of $830,053.

“So even if we were to go to that tax cap maximum of $830,053, you still have a difference between what our revenue side looks like and what our rollover expenses would look like,” he said.

Rydell noted that the Finance Committee met earlier in the week to look at the budget numbers as they now stand. He said the Committee felt strongly that if there is to be an increase it must be below the tax cap of 2.51 percent. The committee also wants a review of all current programs and expenses, “to see where we can minimize that and where we can make strategic reductions and we can also plan for the future.” He also noted that the committee understands there will be no increase in programs or staffing as a way to, “maintain many of the programs we have in our district currently and also keeping expenses down.”

Rydell asked how does the district bridge the gap, “that exists between what we have as our projected potential expenses and any sort of programming for next year versus our revenue side.

Obviously, the revenue side changing with an increase in aid from the New York State budget would certainly help with bridging that gap.”

Rydell urged the School Board and Administration to look at ways to reduce expenses, review the use of the Fund Balance and where is the budget in relation to the tax levy.

Rydell said moving forward the School Board and the Administration will continue to review and adjust expenses, monitor budgetary updates from Albany “and continue the dialogue with the Board of Education and the Administrative team on our next steps.”

Board President Frank Milazzo said the ‘big takeaway’ from the Finance Committee and for everybody, “is that March is always the wait and see month and we’ll just hope that our elected officials have an on-time [state] budget so that we really have a good handle on what we’re going to do in early April so we have time; it’s a wait and see at this point.”