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State Aid: Slight Uptick For Mineola

School district doesn’t expect any other increase

The Mineola School District saw a .58 percent increase, or $26,253 from 2012-13, in Gov. Cuomo’s preliminary state aid figures released last week. The state awarded Mineola $4,492,542 last year.

Mineola saw “a slight” increase in building aid, according to Finance Superintendent Jack Waters, but a reduction in high tax aid. The district received $290,733 last year, but just $87,219 next year.

Negotiations are still ongoing, according to district reps. But Waters isn’t expecting much to change.

“I wouldn’t feel comfortable trying to go out with a budget calculation including a state aide number that’s any higher that they’re telling me we’re going to get,” he said.

Mineola revealed that pension cost increases for next year are about $1.5 million. Under state law, Mineola could put out a 3.05 percent tax increase for the next year, with half of the estimated pension spikes not included, leveling out piercing the cap, a move the district does not want to make.

Mandated increases from the state do not give Mineola wiggle room, but the district is confidant that it can budget accordingly, despite getting a flat aid rate year-to-year.

“We have to budget accordingly based on what we’re getting and what our calculation right now is on the levy cap,” Waters stated.

Mineola’s budget cannot exceed the calculations of state aid, other revenue (school rentals, etc.) and the tax levy.

Pension cost estimations, Waters said, 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 Teacher Retirement System 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.

“The governor’s budget is a proposal and, as we negotiate a final budget for New York State, I will be working with my colleagues toward securing more state aid for Long Island school districts,” Senator Jack Martins said. “In this economy, every school district is a high needs district when it comes to funding.”

The governor’s budget must be ratified by April 1.