By Amanda Wyatt
The Sag Harbor Board of Education held its first budget workshop of the year on Monday, kicking off the lengthy process leading up to the annual public budget vote this spring.
This year, the budget presentations have been broken down by topic — such as buildings and grounds, legal fees or employee benefits — and will be discussed systematically over the course of the six scheduled budget development meetings. The final operating budget will be adopted at the board’s April 8 meeting, with a vote scheduled to take place on Tuesday, May 21.
On Monday, John O’Keefe, the district’s business administrator, presented the school board with his preliminary “rollover” budget for the 2013-2014 school year, as well as the tentative budget for the district’s support services.
As he explained, a rollover budget means “you take all the expenses from last year, you keep all the programs the same, and you take the assumptions for what you know increases are going to be…and you just roll it over, basically.”
“It’s not the number we’re shooting for,” O’Keefe added. “It’s just the starting point.”
By Amanda Wyatt
The preliminary budget for the district is $35,875,000, which is nearly $1.7 million or 4.9 percent higher than last year’s budget of $34,182,256. This number includes $500,000 left over from this year’s budget for its capital fund. Excluding the capital fund, this year’s budget increase is just under $1.2 million, which represents a 3.5 percent increase from last year.
In his presentation, O’Keefe detailed the tentative cost of support services, which amounts to $1,294,628.20 in expenses. This figure includes $53,388 in board of education and district clerk fees; $304,228.20 for expenses related to the chief school administrators; $575,707 for business administration and financial expenses; and $361,305 in legal fees, public information, unallocated insurance and other items.
O’Keefe also noted that the preliminary budget included many variables and unknown numbers. For example, the district is still awaiting figures on what the Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS) will cost, although the projection is for an increase of 15.5 to 16.5 percent. Another major expense for the district, the cost of health insurance, increased by eight percent in 2013, and O’Keefe is estimating an increase of 10 percent in 2014.
The next budget workshop is scheduled to take place on Monday, January 28, during which time building and grounds, athletics and capital project work will be discussed.