Mineola schools eye possible 0.89% tax levy hike

Mineola schools eye possible 0.89% tax levy hike
Mineola school Superintendent Michael Nagler discussed the plan to reopen Mineola Public Schools in the fall. (Courtesy Mineola Public Schools)

By Ted Ryan

The Mineola school district could increase its tax levy as much as $701,000 in the coming school year’s budget, officials said Thursday.

The district is allowed a 0.89-percent tax levy growth under the state’s tax cap law, administrators said. That would mean the tax levy for the 2017-18 budget year would rise to $79.5 million, up from $78.8 million this year.

The allowed hike “could change a little bit depending on our revenue numbers” as administrators prepare to present a draft budget next month, school Superintendent Michael Nagler said.

“We’re using the governor’s projection on state aid. That typically changes when the budget is finally calculated in the state, so that number can change a little bit,” Nagler told the Mineola school board on Thursday. “But I think it’s a solid number to work with given what we have now.”

Nagler said he is confident that the district will be able to keep all of its current programs and introduce some new ones with a tax levy increase that size.

The school board will be discussing staffing and will meet with architects to finalize several projects before Nagler presents a draft budget at the March 16 school board meeting, he said.

This will give the board a more “solid number by the next meeting” for the total value of the coming year’s budget, Nagler said.

“We’re pretty confident that we can deliver everything that we have now — if we roll it all over, we can deliver the same exact program and still be able to add a couple of unique things,” he said.

Determining the value of the tax levy cap is done through a complicated equation that involves the current year’s tax levy, payments made in lieu of taxes, the district’s tax base growth factor, which is a number based on the amount of brick-and-mortar development in a district, and several other figures.

This year’s cap on tax levy growth gives Mineola some breathing room after last year, when the formula required the district had to decrease its total levy by about $10,000.

For the past 10 years, Mineola has had an average allowed tax levy increase of 1.6 percent, and for the past five years, an average of 1.18 percent, keeping the district below Nassau County’s average hike, Nagler said.

“We’ve come in as respectful as we can, honoring old programs we do and respecting the taxpayer in any increases we put forward,” Nagler said.

Christine Napolitano, the Mineola school board president, said she feels hopeful for the upcoming school year based on the presentation of the increased tax levy.

“We’re able to do all of these really wonderful things for our kids and keep our taxes down as much as we can,” Napolitano said. “I know the number is not set in stone, but I feel pretty confident it’ll be somewhere close to ours.”

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