BRONXVILLE, N.Y. – In addition to a tight budget and increased school enrollment, mandated state retirement costs will rise by more than $1 million in 2013-2014 for the Bronxville school district.
New York state has increased the percentage of salaries to be contributed to the New York State Teachers' Retirement System and to the Employees' Retirement System. In Bronxville, required contributions to the state systems are projected to rise from $3,125,829 to $4,225,186, a $1,099,357 increase.
The state has one retirement system for teachers and school administrators and another one for other state and local employees. Contributions to the Employees' Retirement System will rise from 18.9 percent of salary to 20.9 percent, a 10.58 percent increase. Contributions to the Teachers' Retirement System will rise from 11.8 percent of salary to 16.5 percent, a 39.83 percent increase.
These increases represent a 2.8 percent rise in the overall property tax levy, which surpasses the legislated tax cap by a substantial amount, said Dan Carlin, the Bronxville school district's assistant superintendent for business.
"Our budget process is going to be very uncertain in the coming months ahead," Carlin said. "The fact of the matter is that we're all in this boat together. We're probably even in the same quandary with everybody in the state. State pension funds require all school districts to contribute percentages of payroll into these systems, but local school districts have no control over anything."
There needs to be a greater level of communication between the school and the state to manage such a big increase, said Bronxville Schools Superintendent David Quattrone.
"Presumably the retirement services will go down as the economy gets better, or when it finally levels off," Quattrone said. "But at this point there are not many definitive things we can say as far as numbers go, or when it will level off. I’m not sure what the solution is. Maybe it's asking the governor for something, but in any case there should be some exemptions.”
The initial estimation of a $1,099,357 increase in pension costs doesn't include any negotiated salary increases, so the final number will be probably be higher, Carlin said.
"These projections are assuming flat salary levels, but that number could go up another $200,000 subject to internal school operations," he said. "What we don't know is where it's going to peak. Will it stop at 16.5 percent or will it peak at 25 percent? State officials aren't giving us clear answers, but any continued increase just won't be sustainable. All we're told is that the trend is up, but that's not enough. We're going to have to push for more answers."