North Shore Board of Ed adopts $120M budget

North Shore Board of Ed adopts $120M budget
The North Shore School District is proposing a budget that is reactionary to LIPA revenue losses and inflationary costs. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. License:

The North Shore School District voted unanimously to adopt its $120 million budget with a tax levy of $89 million for 2023-24.

The budget is increasing by about 3.78%, compared to the current academic year’s budget of nearly $116 million. Superintendent Christopher Zublionis said this is mostly attributed to increases in health insurance, retirement and debt service costs. The budget also includes an estimated 3.7% tax levy increase.

On top of inflationary costs, the school district presented its budget amid financial challenges of revenue losses from the decommissioned Long Island Power Authority power plant.

In the wake of the decommissioning, Zublionis said LIPA was grieving its taxes, which were finally settled in June.

That means, according to Zublionis, millions of dollars have been slashed from the tax roll and taxes have shifted to the residents.

“For generations, a big portion of the [tax class] was paid by the power plant,” Zublionis said previously. “That worked as long as it was generating power.”

In Nassau County, the tax base is built around four classes: businesses, utilities, condos and homes. In areas with high business and retail revenue, those businesses pay taxes that reduce the taxes paid by homeowners.

In 2001, homeowners paid about 54.5% of the tax class share. In 2023, they now pay about 83.4%.

In total, the district has lost $2.35 million from LIPA revenue. LIPA is currently paying a direct assessment, which is gradually decreasing by millions of dollars a year. Zublionis said that over the next five years, the district projects it will lose more than $38 million in total revenues from LIPA.

The district received about $2.1 million more in state aid, but Zublionis said it was not enough for their needs.

When the cost increases and revenue losses are added together, Zublionis said it amounts to $10.6 million for the district to make up

While the tax cap is set at 2% and the school adopted a budget with about a 3.7% tax levy increase, Trustee Marianne Russo clarified during the meeting that the tax cap is not flat. She said that the district is operating under the tax cap and difficult decisions were made to ensure that.

One tough decision made by the board was to cut a number of jobs to save $2.7 million due to revenue losses from the closure of the LIPA power plant and inflationary costs.

Positions that will be cut in 2023-2024 come from throughout the district, including teachers, teacher’s aids, clerical positions and contingency jobs.

Zublionis told Blank Slate that he was unable to provide the exact number of employees who would be terminated or the positions cut as the numbers may change over time depending on circumstances.

Overall, the district is trimming its budget in three areas: central administration by 2.77%, plant maintenance by 1.62% and supervision instruction by 7.45%.

In light of the recent bank failures, including Manhattan-based Signature Bank, which was largely bought by New York Community Bank and is now operating as Flagstar bank, Assistant Superintendent for Business James Pappas said during the meeting that none of the district’s investments are at risk.

While the budget has been adopted by the board, residents now will vote to implement the budget. The election will be held from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. May 16 in the North Shore High School gym.

Board President Dave Ludmar said he encourages everyone to vote in the district’s election, which will also include school board offices.

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