ALBANY, NY (06/01/2015)(readMedia)-- Today was the deadline for New York State school districts to submit efficiency plans to allow eligible taxpayers to receive tax freeze credit checks this fall. NYSASBO surveyed school districts and found that respondents were expecting to save $1,163,321,265 over three years with the plans. Survey respondents were 366 or 56 percent of the 657 school districts that are expected to file government efficiency plans. These results are for New York State independent school districts. The Big 4 City School Districts (Rochester, Yonkers, Syracuse and Buffalo) participate as part of their City's plan and the law does not apply to the New York City School District. School districts that successfully override the Tax Cap (12 so far) are also not expected to submit a Government Efficiency Plan because their tax payers will not be eligible to receive the Tax Freeze credits.
The law requires school districts and other local governments to submit a Government Efficiency Plan by June 1, 2015 that saves one percent of each school district's 2014-15 tax levy and sustains these savings over three years. According to Tax Cap data school districts submitted to the State Comptroller , independent school districts levied $20.2 billion in 2014-15. One percent is $202 million and over three years, targeted savings for all the independent school districts is $606 million. NYSASBO survey results of approximately $1.1 billion suggest that school districts are identifying savings that go well beyond required amounts.
The areas school districts cited most often for efficiencies were Benefits Administration (including health insurance consortia) (cited in 34 percent of school district plans), Human Services (27 percent), Pupil Transportation Services (27 percent), and Insurance (25 percent). Other areas of efficiencies included Business and Financial Services (21 percent), Utilities (18 percent), more efficient provision of educational services (15 percent), Administrative Services (14 percent), Procurement (13 percent), Information Technology (13 percent), Facilities (12 percent), and Real Estate and Facility Management including closing schools (11 percent). Efficiencies related to Teacher Labor Contracts were mentioned in six percent of the plans and school district mergers in only one percent of the plans.
The Tax Freeze law was enacted in 2014 and provides tax freeze credit checks to eligible taxpayers in local governments that stay within the Tax Cap and have approved Government Efficiency Plans. The Government Efficiency Plans must include school district actions that will result in saving one percent of the 2014-15 tax levy in each of three years beginning in 2016-17. So far the vast majority of school districts are staying within the Tax Cap, with only 19 school districts seeking an override. The voters in only 12 of the override districts passed their budgets at the May budget vote. Those with defeated budgets can present the same or revised budget to the voters on June 16, 2015.
"School business officials were instrumental in identifying the savings that will allow taxpayers to receive Tax Freeze checks," said Michael J. Borges, NYSASBO's Executive Director. "This is part of an ongoing process to do more with less and to find many ways to use school resources so that children receive more education for each education dollar," Mr. Borges continued. "NYSASBO will continue to promote the effective use of school resources as more education CFOs make the critical transition to strategic leaders," Mr. Borges concluded