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March 6, 2014

Draft budget plan to be presented at March 10 meeting

The Board of Education has scheduled an additional budget development meeting for this coming Monday, March 10 from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in the District Office Board Room.

At the meeting, Superintendent Susan Kay Salvaggio will present a draft spending plan for the 2014-15 school year. The plan to be presented will build on the topics covered at previous Board of Education meetings and two community forums, including projected expenses, revenues, and fund balance. The budget development process will continue through March.

At the March 4 Board meeting, the administration presented an updated budget gap figure at this early stage in the process. An initial gap between revenues and expenditures of about $2.6 million has been reduced to $1.5 million. This is the result of two factors:

  • The one-time application of $639,000 in from the district's debt service reserve. This funding will be used as the reserve is intended, to offset debt service costs in the school budget.
  • A preliminary tax levy increase of 2.81 percent. The district had used a tax levy increase estimate of 2 percent when it initially calculated its budget gap this fall. The additional 0.81 percent results in about $430,000 more toward closing the gap.

The plan to be presented on Monday will call for the district to use a combination of fund balance and expense reductions to close the remainder of the gap without any reductions to student programs for next year. At recent budget meetings, district leaders have presented information about the district's restoration of unassigned fund balance over the past two budget cycles, giving it some flexibility to use these savings as a strategy for next year.

Following the March 10 meeting, a community budget forum is scheduled on Saturday, March 15. The Board's budget work sessions will be held on March 18 and March 25, and, if needed, in early April.

Tax Levy Threshold

In February, using the state's property tax levy cap formula, the district had calculated its threshold for a simple majority vote to be a 2.81 percent increase. Later in the month, the Office of the State Comptroller issued e-mail guidance to schools across the state directing them to adjust an element in the calculation from how it had been done in prior years. As a result, the district's threshold for next year, based on the calculation, is 4.51 percent. This is simply the upper limit of what the district can propose and still require a simple majority vote. The 2.81 percent tax levy increase is factored into current planning.

Board resolution calling for an end to the GEA

Also at the March 4 meeting, the Board approved a resolution asking New York State to end the Gap Elimination Adjustment, or GEA. The GEA is the state's ongoing policy of withholding aid from every district in New York to help address its own budget challenges. Read more about the resolution