Response to the Comptroller’s Report
The New York State Office of the State Comptroller is required to audit all municipalities including school districts on a regular basis. Recently the Plainview-Old Bethpage School District was audited and the recommendations from the Comptroller’s Office were released. We are pleased that the Comptroller’s Office re-affirmed the District’s strong financial position that had already been recognized through our “AAA” credit rating status. Plainview-Old Bethpage works closely with internal auditors to ensure strong controls over its business operation, annually subjects its financial statement to independent, external auditors and is constantly striving to find efficiencies within its operation in order to provide the best possible education to the students of Plainview-Old Bethpage in the most efficient manner.
The focus of the Comptroller’s Audit was on the financial condition of the District from July 1, 2009 through August 31, 2014. During that time, the District complied with the 4% Fund Balance requirement and used all funds gained by efficiencies and unanticipated revenues to either return funds to residents in the form of a lower tax levy or to improve facilities. Many of the most recently completed capital projects and a number of the projects currently underway are paid for through the capital reserves that were funded through operational efficiencies and unanticipated revenue.
There are certain facts that the Comptroller’s Report did not comment on that Plainview-Old Bethpage is very proud of. For example:
Plainview-Old Bethpage presents budgets that are below the Tax Cap - Since the inception of the New York State Property Tax Cap Law in 2012, Plainview-Old Bethpage has levied below its allowable tax cap. This continues to reduce the tax burden years into the future:
Total Un-levied Taxes Below Cap*
Allowable Tax Levy Increase
Actual Tax Levy Increase
$ Below Allowable Levy Cap
*Note: Under the NYS Tax Cap Law, once a Board of Education decides it will not levy an allowable amount in taxes for a certain year, it can never “catch up” in subsequent years. Therefore, those potential tax dollars can never be collected and the tax saving to residents become cumulative, and larger, over the years
Plainview-Old Bethpage has strategically reallocated unused funds - The District has allocated unused funds from one budget year to the subsequent budget year productively by allocating a portion of the funds to offset and reduce the tax levy of the subsequent year and then fund necessary reserves which allow us to invest in maintaining our buildings and to weather years of uncertain, sky-rocketing medical and retirement costs – costs which the District has no control over.
Voter Approved Budget
Funds Allocated to Next Year’s Budget
Total Unused Funds
The current financial position of the Plainview-Old Bethpage School District has positioned us to respond to future anticipated financial challenges, finance daily operations without the interest cost of borrowing funds, maintain a AAA bond rating (further reducing the interest costs on any future borrowings) and preserve and protect our instructional programs. The strategic use of funds has allowed the District to respond to over $6,000,000 of New York State aid reductions over the last 5 years related to the GAP elimination adjustments without cutting programs.
Plainview-Old Bethpage has already taken its first step in adopting the recommendations of the Comptroller’s Office by setting a tax levy for 2015-2016 that is far below its allowable tax levy limit; saving the residents of the District almost $2.2 Million in taxes for the 2015-2016 school year alone. The Board of Education and administration will continue to maintain a healthy financial foot print to support a bright future for our Plainview-Old Bethpage students. Together we will manage our resources in our quest for Excellence in Education.