GERMANTOWN — Interim school district Business Manager Stephen Golas petitioned the Office of the State Comptroller to allow the Germantown Central School District to amend the capital exclusion used to determine the total allowable tax levy for the 2020-21 school year.
But the request was denied by the Comptroller’s office. Had it been granted, Golas said, it would have resulted in a smaller deduction taken from the 2020-21 tax levy. This, in turn, would have resulted in a larger amount by which the allowable tax levy for the upcoming 2021-2022 school year could be calculated.
“This is simply an adjustment to the tax cap,” Golas said. “We had to make a change in our tax cap and we could only do a levy that would be 0.82%, which is less than 1%. And it mainly is because of what we have as allowable, capital-related expenditures and less aid that covers them. And that has been a number that has been somewhat in flux over time.”
The Germantown Central School District Board of Education voted to accept the revised property tax report card for the 2021-22 school year.
“If the Comptroller’s office had let us amend the number that we had given them last year, we could have gotten a higher tax levy,” Golas said. “But they would not allow us to do that so we had to just have a tax levy increase of 0.82% to stay within the tax cap.”
The state Comptroller’s office usually prefers not to make changes if it is going to result in a larger increase in a tax levy, Golas said.
“I think it’s rare that they’ll open up a past number,” Golas said. “Even if the number changes over time because it’s variable.”
This determination means the school district has to reduce its proposed tax levy for the 2021-22 school year, by $61,592 from $9,792,874 to $9,731,282, Golas said. This reduces the allowable increase in the 2021-22 tax levy from 1.46% to 0.82%.
“This means that the difference of $61,592, if we are not getting the same amount for the tax levy, we have to add it to the amount of appropriated fund balance,” Golas said. “I feel comfortable with us doing that. I took some time today to look at the current budget and what we spent, what we encumbered, we are definitely, I think, in perfectly OK territory to have a higher fund balance amount if we need to use it, because number one we are getting state aid we thought we were going to lose.”
Many school districts scaled back in their budgets for the upcoming school year because they believed there were going to be reductions in state aid, Golas said. He said because the state was able to receive money from the federal government which he said has led to extra revenue coming in this year as compared to what districts had thought they would be receiving in aid.
In order for the district now be able to support the proposed 2021-2022 budget with this change Golas said fund balance appropriated for potential use in the 2021-2022 school year needs to be increased by $61,592 which would bring that amount from 1,033,435 to $1,095,028. The change in tax levy also requires the school district to submit a revised Property Tax Report Card to the New York State Education Department. This change keeps the proposed budget for the 2021-2022 year still at the total amount of $16,331,182 which had been previously calculated.
“I think we’re fine for the upcoming school year, and I wouldn’t say that if I didn’t believe it,” Golas said.