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Pension Costs Could Affect School Tax Levy

Mineola officials, regardless of the option,

do not want to pierce the state imposed tax cap

Teacher retirement in the Mineola School District could affect next year’s tax levy, which has a state-imposed 2 percent limit that was put into law in 2011. Finance Superintendent Jack Waters revealed that the district could have $800,000 exempt from the cap due to the estimated retirement costs that would go into effect in the 2013-14 school year.

Waters said the Teacher Retirement System (TRS) increases for next year is about $1.5 million. Mineola under state law could put out a 3.05 percent increase for the next year, with half of the estimated TRS cost spikes not included, leveling out piercing the cap, a move the district does not want to make.

Pension cost estimations, according to Waters, could be anywhere from 15.5 to 16.5 percent or $5.9 million. Employee cost rates for this year is 11.84 percent, with an estimated increase of 4.16 percent next year. The 2012-13 TRS payroll totals $37 million.

The first 2 percent of the employee cost rate is included in the levy cap calculation, according to Waters. Any increase over the 2 percent is exempt from the levy cap, which means if the district chooses, it can exceed the cap.

“It still has to be paid,” Waters said. “For example, where the first 2 percent has to be included in the levy cap, $740,000 is part of the calculation we have to prove to the state that this is where our pension costs are. The additional 2.16 percent ($800,000) is outside the cap and would be reflected as an exempt amount in terms of proving to the taxpayer that we have complied with the 2 percent [cap].”

Last year’s tax levy totaled $76,242,180. Waters said regardless of the exemption, the district would still work to not float a 3.05 tax levy increase.

“We would go out with a tax levy of 3.05 for the 2013-14 year but we would comply with the state saying the 1.05 [percent] is exempt. [The 3.05 percent] is something, all things being equal I don’t think we’re going to work towards.”

District Superintendent Michael Nagler pointed out that TRS alone is more than the 2 percent cap, “which is not good. What will be allowed under the law of the cap, we would be allowed to go out with 3 percent. That would be within the cap parameter. So it’s kind of a misnomer that you get this exemption; it’s a bad word because you’d think you’d be exempt from paying it, you’re not. It just doesn’t figure in to the 2 percent [state cap].”

Nagler noted that the TRS budget line is significant in how the district crafts a budget for next year. In May, the district floated and passed a $83,992,180 budget, a decrease of $229,458 or a 0.27 percent drop in spending from 2011-12.

“The levy calculation this year has some added twists in it,” said Nagler. “ Putting a budget…our norm has been around 2.5 [percent] over the last four or five years. It’s going to be a challenge to get to that number this year, but we haven’t really started crafting the budget yet. We’re just looking at big numbers. When we start to apply how we craft the budget, we’ll have news on this as we go along. This number is pretty astronomical and there’s no indication that this is leveling off.”

Board President William Hornberger said according to State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, that Mineola should anticipate future increases in employee cost rates.

“Everything is dependent upon the global capital markets and what’s driving their rate of return,” Hornberger stated. “Last year’s rate of return for the fiscal year ending June 30 was 2.8 percent. Apparently, that wasn’t good enough.”

News

As the night sky fell on Memorial Park last Thursday, Mineola residents and officials paused to remember the almost 3,000 lives that were lost in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

 

Mayor Scott Strauss, a former NYPD EMS worker and 9/11 first responder, was one of the many who rushed into Manhattan after the attacks, searching the rubble for survivors. He was part of the rescue effort that saved the lives of Port Authority Police officers Will Jimeno and John McLoughlin.

Swaths of nearby and local residents flocked to the sixth annual Mineola Street Fair on Sunday, Sept. 14. With vendors lined up and down the streets featuring local businesses and restaurants, live performances and various entertainment for kids, the Mineola Chamber of Commerce-sponsored event didn’t disappoint Mary Cheung of Great Neck.

 

“These fairs are always fun,” she said. “It’s not too hot, not too cold. The music is the best part.”


Sports

Though it had already hosted the series of lacrosse games during the regular season this past spring, Chaminade High School’s new Gold Star Stadium was officially christened on Saturday, Sept. 6, named in honor of the 56 alumni who had perished during combat.

 

“Tradition holds that when one dies in the service a gold star is given to the family,” said Chaminade President Bro. Thomas Cleary. “Our 56 Gold Star Alumni are honored for their selflessness, courage, and integrity.”

Although the expectations for the 2014 Mineola Mustangs boy’s varsity soccer season may be somewhat measured, the team enters the season with the goal of a berth in the Nassau County playoffs. The team is young and inexperienced but there is light at the end of the tunnel.

 

There is considerable talent on the horizon. There are only four starting seniors and five sophomores on the roster. Four year starting senior forward Daniel Pardo returns (19 goals in three seasons) as does senior standout goalkeeper Andrew Pereira.


Calendar

Town Zoning Meeting - September 17

International Night - September 18

Bereavement Support Group - September 19


Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
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