Lewis County Head Start awarded $1.4M in grant funding

PHILADELPHIA — Continuing budget discussions for Indian River Central School District ahead of its adoption of the next fiscal year’s budget, topics ranged from property tax to Impact Aid at the district’s Board of Education meeting Thursday night.

The district’s business manager, Audrey Stevenson, gave another presentation to the board regarding the budget, partly focusing on Impact Aid, which is a payment given to the district in lieu of taxes it would have received if land used for Fort Drum held houses with families paying property taxes.

Impact Aid is a federal education program that reimburses school districts for the lost revenue and additional costs associated with the presence of nontaxable federal property, according to the National Association of Federally Impacted Schools.

Given according to a need-based formula, taking into consideration what percent of the district’s students are military, as well as what percent of the budget relies on Impact Aid, the district has received $19.75 million in Impact Aid to date.

According to Ms. Stevenson, the district is now at 100% payment for the 2020 school year. She explained that the way Impact Aid has worked in the past, and still works, is that when the district is paid, like in 2020, it isn’t given the full amount owed. Instead, it’s paid based on a new based formula for dispersal from the federal government.

The district received money last year for 2020, and this year it received another $2.274 million for the 2020 year, which brought the district up to 100% payment level, Ms. Stevenson said.

The district also received $17.5 million for the 2021 year which is at the 90% pay level. These are the only two open years, she added.

In prior years, she noted that some years the district received $25 million or $26 million for Impact Aid, and those typically were because the district was being paid for that year, as well as in some instances, three catch-up years where the government hadn’t been able to fund the district at either 90% or 100%.

Ms. Stevenson noted that the government has indicated the district will receive one more payment, so she’s estimating Indian River will be paid somewhere between 109% and 115% altogether for 2020.

In terms of state aid, the executive proposal from New York state is almost $58 million. Looking at the $57.9 million and leaning toward a more conservative budget, Ms. Stevenson’s budget proposal includes taking just 90% and withholding 10% to bring it to $52 million. A bit less conservative in budgeting for federal Impact Aid, she said she thinks the two together will protect the district and put it in a fairly safe place for next year.

The Indian River Central School District is expecting, from federal, state and fund balance somewhere between $83 million and $85 million, according to Ms. Stevenson. Local source revenue, in addition to the tax levy, is about $1.4 million. Ms. Stevenson said a big part of that comes from different organizations using the district’s fuel depot. It also has to do with retirees paying for their portion of health insurance.

As for local property tax, the maximum the district could increase its tax levy would be 2.6%, according to Ms. Stevenson, which would be $2.572 million. As it needs to be entered in to the state by March 1, the property tax must be adopted at the next board meeting Feb. 25.

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