‘We wanted to do what’s right for the taxpayer’

WF's budget reflects zero percent tax levy


The William Floyd School District Board of Education recently adopted the 2021-22 proposed budget in the amount of $251,311,607, which is a 2.32 percent increase over last year’s budget.

This includes a zero percent tax levy, which school superintendent Kevin Coster noted, is a first since the tax cap was implemented in 2012 for the 2012-13 budget. On average, the approved district tax levy increase over the last nine years has been an average of 1.4 percent.

“We ask for what we need, we don’t go out for what we can get,” added assistant superintendent for business David Beggins of the budgets created. “We try to do what’s right for the taxpayer.”

State foundation aid was increased by $14 million for the 2021-22 school year (that is about $40 million below than what the district would receive if foundation aid were fully funded).

“We are grateful to our elected officials for securing this increase in foundation aid, which helps to sustain student opportunities and provide tax relief to our residents,” said James Montalto, public relations director, William Floyd School District.

The federally received aid – including just over $2.2 million in March 2020, $8.6 million in December and $25.3 million in March, 2021 – has been utilized for implementation of COVID protocols and PPE, as well as the creation of a more robust summer learning experience and the addition of mental health staff to help students through these challenging times.

This money is designed as a multi-year spend and to help deal with the current COVID pandemic, prepare for future emergencies, provide ongoing support programs for students through academic, social and emotional avenues. According to Beggins, the utilization of the funding was done conservatively.

“This [federal] money will eventually dry up; it’s not a permanent part of the budget,” he added.

“The way we look at it is, we’re making sure we are talking about program sustainability for the long term,” Beggins continued. “Unlike other wealthy districts where state aid makes up less than, for example, 5 percent of their budget, when they are cut, it doesn’t affect them as much.”

William Floyd’s budget, he explained, is made up of about 50 percent state aid. “When we’re cut, it’s huge. It’s not something we can go out to the residents and ask for more,” he said. “Any cut in that area hurts and directly impacts student opportunities.”

In anticipation of the financial warnings issued by the Governor, the district implemented its 2020-21 operating budget in an extremely conservative manner; positions vacated during the year were not filled and operational savings were pursued. These budget restrictions are all being restored in the proposed 2021-22 budget. The budget also maintains all student programs, clubs, sports and opportunities.

“We believe this is a fiscally sound budget with great opportunity for students and residents long term,” Beggins added. “It honors our contractual obligations for our staff and vendors, while keeping our residents in mind. We hope that they exercise their civic rights to come out and vote.”

The budget also contains two additional propositions, including:

Proposition 2: Shall the Board of Education of the William Floyd Union Free School District be autho¬rized to transfer surplus funds remaining in the District’s unassigned general fund balance at the conclusion of the 2020-2021 fiscal year ending June 30, 2021, in the maximum amount of $5,000,000, or so much thereof as is available for this purpose, into the District’s Repair Reserve Fund; and be further authorized to deposit, invest and account for such funds.

Proposition 3: The district be authorized to establish a new capital reserve fund to pay costs of masonry renovation, plumbing upgrades, electrical upgrades, mechanical upgrades, technology upgrades, telephone upgrades, roof replacement on District buildings, door replacement, window replacement, turf replacement, fencing, site work, including but not limited to paving, curbs and sidewalks, renovation/reconstruction of interior and exterior instructional spaces, abatement of hazardous materials and/or the purchase of furnishings/equipment, in an ultimate amount of $6 million (plus interest earned thereon), having a probable term of ten (10) years and be authorized to raise $6 million to fund such capital reserve fund in the current or future years through various sources including, but not limited to, state aid reimbursement, cost saving measures resulting in unexpended funds or unappropriated fund balance and other legally available funds.

The annual budget hearing will be held May 11 at 7 p.m. Email any questions to budget@wfsd.k12.ny.us or call 631-874-1684.

The vote and election will be held on May 18 from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the East Lobby of the high school.


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