While the Lansing Central School District is expected to exceed the tax cap of 3.6 percent with its 4.31 percent increase in the property tax levy for the 2021–2022 academic year, the district administration says its residents should see their bills decrease for the upcoming year, barring one exception.
Between the 2020–2021 and 2021–2022 academic years, both the district’s tax levy and PILOT’s (payments in lieu of taxes) are expected to increase with the former increasing by 4.31 percent ($879,182, from about $20.4 million to about $21.2 million) and the latter increasing by 9.32 percent ($26,176, from about $281,000 to about $307,000).
Overall, the district’s total assessments are projected to increase by 4.78 percent (about $46.7 million) from about $977,901,268 to $1,024,597,750. Because of this increase in total assessed values, the tax rate is anticipated to decrease by 0.37 percent ($21.116 to $21.037 per thousand), though business administrator Kathryn Heath said at a Board of Education meeting on May 10 this percent could decrease further.
“These are estimates. The final amounts will not be determined until the final tax roll on July 1,” Heath said. “The estimates for the assessed values are given to us by the Tompkins County Assessment Department, and [director Jay Franklin] is typically conservative on those values. Hopefully, we’re anticipating we might be able to see an even further decrease in the tax rate depending on where those fall in.”
The lone exception for district households receiving the decrease on their taxes is that one’s property assessment must have remained the same from the previous year in order to see a lower amount on bills. A $100,000 home that maintained its assessment, for instance, would notice a decrease of $7.87 on its taxes ($2,111.57 per thousand to $2,103.70). A $200,000 home would see a decrease of $15.75 ($4,223.15 per thousand to $4,207.40).
The proposed budget for the 2021–2022 academic year is 432,408,881, which is an increase of 2.71 percent ($854,771) from the 2020–2021 budget. The 2021–2022 budget features staff changes district-wide, including some savings through attrition (retirements or staff members leaving the district).
At the high school the dean of students and athletic director positions will be combined as one into an assistant principal/athletic director position, and at the elementary school the dean of students position will be shifted to an assistant principal position. The switch to an assistant principal position from a dean of students position will be made due to an increase in enrollment as well as an establishment of a pre-kindergarten program.
A critical technology element (CTE) or business teacher will be hired at the middle school to replace what was previously a family and consumer science teacher. There will also be a six-percent increase in healthcare expenses district-wide as well as an increase in expenses towards BOCES programming ($496,344).
The “program component” of the proposed budget would increase by nearly $500,000. The bulk of this increase would be put towards student special services (increase of more than $400,000, from about $4 million to about $4.4 million) and physical and mental health services (increase of close to $40,000, from about $515,000 to about $554,000). There is also an increase in professional development for teachers proposed (about $34,000, from $150,000 to $184,000).
As mentioned earlier, the district will have funding available ($140,400) to offer a universal pre-kindergarten program for the 2021–2022 academic year. This program would be full-day and open to only four-year-old children. A minimum of 10 percent of those funds must be allocated to agencies within or in close proximity to the district. Those agencies must be able to offer a full-day program in order to be eligible for the funding.
There is limited space at the district, and so at the moment it can only offer one classroom of 18 students, though there is enough funding for 26 students. The district is hoping to work with local agencies to meet the eligibility requirement to serve the remaining eight students.