The Board of Education convened on August 28 at Pawling Middle School for their final meeting before students return from summer break for the 2017 – 2018 school year. Chief on the agenda was a presentation on the District’s Fund Balance, Reserves, and Tax Levy prepared by Dr. Neysa Sensenig. Board members would also vote on funding and appropriations and consider several measures to reduce taxes over the next four years.
Dr. Sensenig’s presentation provided a detailed update regarding the state of the District’s funding as of June 30, 2017. The Fund Balance consists of three categories: Restricted, Assigned, and Unassigned funds.
Restricted Funds are those designated by the Board to serve specific purposes. These include Workers Compensation ($200,000), Employee Retirement System Reserve Fund ($3,614,882), Tax Certiorari ($973,681), Employee Benefits ($1,383,581), and the Capitol Reserve ($1,000,000.) The total Restricted Fund Balance for the District is currently $7,172,144.
The Capitol Reserve Fund is the result of a proposition approved by voters last May to establish a cash reserve to assist the Board in long-range planning for capital projects (e.g., roof replacement).
Money in the Assigned Fund Balance is also used for specific, assigned purposes. As of June 30, the Assigned Fund includes a Reserve for Encumbrances ($1,400,774) and an additional appropriation to the 2017 – 2018 budget ($551,607) for a total of $1,952,381.
As of June 30, 2017, the Unassigned Fund Balance was $2,016,585. Since the Board only allows the Unassigned Fund to remain at 4% of the total yearly budget ($36,670,764,) there would be a proposed transfer of $550,000 to the Capital Reserve Fund that would leave the Unassigned Fund balance at $1,466,585.
The tax rate in the Town of Pawling is currently $50.52 per $1,000 in assessed value. This represents a decrease of 2.19% from 2016 – 2017. This year marks the first time that the District will benefit from the Town and Hamlet of Patterson’s Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) program, which will contribute an estimated $48,617 in tax reduction, reducing the property tax levy of $28,662,471 to $28,613,854, or a tax levy decrease of 2%.
Looking to the future, Dr. Sensenig outlined planned reductions over multiple years to benefit the taxpayer. These include a $1,148,607 reduction of the tax levy for the 2017-18 school year, $973,681 of the 2017 – 2018 tax certiorari, and $3,017,882 from the Employee Retirement System Planned Funding through 2021. A planned total of $5,140,170 will be used to assist in lowering the tax levy further over the next four years.
The Board resolved to fund reserves and appropriated fund balances based on the audit for the fiscal year ended June 30 as follows: Reserve for Worker’s Compensation ($200,000); Reserve for Employee Retirement System Planned Funding ($3,614,882.17) Reserve for Tax Certioraris ($973,680.46); Reserve for Employee Benefit Liability ($1,383,581.22); Reserve for Capital Projects ($1,550,000); and Appropriated Fund Balance ($551,607).
The Board resolved to establish the property tax levy for the 2017 – 2018 school year in the sum of $28,662,471, with an estimated PILOT payment at $48,617 to be received in February 2018 that nets a tax levy to be raised of $28,613,854
The Board resolved to appropriate $597,000 of the 2017 – 2018 Employee Retirement System Reserve Funds to the Appropriated Fund Balance.
All three resolutions were passed unanimously.