Brad James (Finance Manager, Agency of Education) joined the Committee on Tuesday. He informed them that all but three districts have reported their budgets so far and the remaining ones were very small. He noted that if they assumed the remaining districts came in at the statewide average, the overall average spending increase would come out just under 8%.
Chairwoman Kornheiser asked if he had any idea what might happen next year with the weighting factors starting to go into effect. He didn’t have a clear idea yet, but he’s already started talking with school district budget managers to get some direction.
Joint Fiscal Office (JFO) shared the latest Education Fund Outlook, which included a new line item for a one-time adjustment to pension payments (due to rapid inflation). Also included in the new model are the latest numbers from AOE for education spending and it accounts for the latest grand list values. This results in 3.84% projected bill increase across all three classes of taxpayers (homestead, non-homestead, income). If the legislature put $50M in the tax reserve fund instead of $22M, it would result in an average increase of 5.86%.
The Committee returned to this on Friday to review the draft yield bill (the annual bill that sets property tax rates). The bill funds the newly created property tax reserve with $22M in the first year, which should result in the 3.8% average increase in property tax bills shared by JFO on Monday.