Proposed 2021-22 school budget keeps taxes steady

Superintendent Adam Heroth has proposed a $21.297 million budget for the 2021-22 school year that keeps taxes steady compared with the 2020-21 school year.

The state’s maximum tax levy increase for OESJ is 1.33%.

“We are still analyzing the details of the upcoming budget, but at this time we feel a tax increase may not be necessary. This is in large part due to the fact that the district has been fiscally responsible over the years,” said Heroth. However, he stressed that the rate may need to be increased in future years.

Last year, taxes were increased by 0.37%, by 3% in 2019-20 and by 1% in the 2018-19 school year. In the five years prior to that (after the school district merger), taxes were not increased.

In early March, Heroth reviewed the budget for the Board of Education.

Please note these upcoming budget dates:

  • The Board of Education expects to adopt a final budget on April 21.
  • The public hearing on the 2021-22 spending plan will be held at 6 p.m., May 5 at the Elementary School.
  • The community-wide public vote is scheduled for 12 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, May 18.

Heroth noted that these are still working numbers and could change in the future. The budget is based on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s state aid estimates in January; the Legislature may add aid to schools before adopting a budget. And the use of the federal stimulus funding is still unknown. However, that money is designed to provide stability to school finances and avoid a fiscal “cliff” until June 2024.

“We will continue to balance the educational needs of our students with what the taxpayers can afford!,” Heroth said.

During the budget presentation, Heroth noted that 59% of the budget goes for salaries and benefits and 11% is for debt payments.

The budget adds a Jr./Sr. High School math teacher, an elementary teacher and includes a health insurance premium increase of 10-20% ($400,000-$500,000 increase) though the district continues to negotiate with the insurance companies.

The budget includes these reductions: trans-portation supervisor, special education teacher, and two retirees from the fall have not yet been replaced.