City to consider restoring 4 police officers in budget

MASSENA — With more revenue than anticipated coming in, the Massena Central School District is presenting taxpayers with a $59.7 million 2021-22 budget that includes no tax levy increase.

Superintendent Patrick Brady said the proposed budget will increase by $3,047,593, or 5.38%, from $56,665,033 in 2020-21 to $59,712,726.

“A significant portion of this increase is related to the capital project, which is offset by state aid,” he said.

Mr. Brady said the district’s Finance Committee had three main goals when they crafted the spending plan — to minimize any increase in the tax levy, reduce the designated fund balance used in the budget, and improve student programming and district operations.

“The significant level of funding provided by the state and federal governments this year will allow us to accomplish the three main objectives of the Finance Committee,” he said.

There were some initial worries, however, that the state’s budget deficit would translate to less aid for schools.

“The budget puts schools in a vastly better position than we would have dared to hope for last summer or fall. This was made possible by three primary sources: much smaller than projected declines in state revenues, assistance from Washington, and state tax increases projected to generate more than $4 billion in revenue,” he said.

Mr. Brady said that, under the state’s budget, Massena’s Foundation Aid, the main operating aid, increased by $2,335,414, or 9.93%. Community Schools Aid remains at the previous level of $227,000.

Full funding was provided for expense-based aid such as BOCES, building, special education and transportation. For Massena, expense-based aid is projected to increase by $626,776, or 8.29%; building aid will increase by $767,491, or 20.51% largely due to the current capital project; and Universal Pre-Kindergarten funding will increase by $674,880.

Total state aid for Massena will be $38,557,818, an increase of $3,729,681, or 10.71%.

“With the increase in Foundation Aid, we are recommending a 0% tax levy increase for 2021-22,” Mr. Brady said.

He said the increase also allows them to use less of their fund balance to balance the budget.

Voters had approved a 2020-21 budget with a 1.99% tax levy increase last year. But under the actual tax rates approved in August after towns filed their final tax assessment roll, the tax rate for Massena decreased by 6.5 cents per thousand of assessed value, or 0.35%.

Because of the equalization rates, tax rates for the towns of Brasher, Louisville and Norfolk increased — Brasher by 2.84%, Louisville by 7% and Norfolk by 3.43%.

Equalization rates measure a municipality’s level of assessment and how close a property’s assessment is to its actual value.

Equalization rates were 78% in Brasher, down from 80.5% in 2019-20; 81% in Louisville, down from 87% in 2019-20; 100% in Massena; and 79% in Norfolk, down from 82% in 2019-20.

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