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IL school budget draft: Expenses up and revenues down

Wednesday, February 20, 2013 - Updated: 8:30 AM

By PETE KLEIN

Express News Staff

INDIAN LAKE - Members of the Indian Lake Central School District Board of Education got their first look at the first draft of the 2013/14 school budget when they met Tuesday, Feb. 12, and immediately began planning ways to reach out to voters for opinions and possible ways to lower costs.

Appropriations for the current school year are $5.82 million. The draft budget shows appropriations of $5.99 million, up $164,413 or 2.82 percent.Appropriations aren’t everything. There are also revenues to consider, and they are going down.

If spending isn’t cut, and school aid reductions in the governor’s budget are not restored, the tax rate could go up as much as 7.34 percent. That would bring it from about $6.66 per $1,000 of assessed value this school year to about $7.149.

The draft budget shows $1.33 million in estimated revenues, down $154,012. This includes a $6,000 cut in BOCES aid; $1,500 in cuts in textbook, library and software aid; and a $75,000 cut in other state aid.

Combined with $70,012 less in fund balance applied to reduce taxes, the estimated tax levy is currently $4.66 million instead of this year’s $4.34 million.

If all the cuts were restored the tax levy would go up 3.78 percent rather than the current estimated 7.34 percent.

And, as Alice would say in “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” things get curiouser and curiouser. At a 3.78 percent increase, the draft budget would be under the tax levy cap, according to the state formula used to calculate it.

All this is why the BOE intends to meet with various groups, such as the ambulance corps and fire department, to explain what is happening and seek opinions.

The state-mandated cap enacted in 2011 allows a school district’s property tax levy to grow by the rate of inflation or 2 percent each year, whichever is lower.

The cap is then adjusted for exclusions, such as capital expenditures, excessive pension and court judgment costs, changes in payments in lieu of taxes, taxes generated by new property development and any carryover of unused cap room.

In a related matter, the board authorized Superinten-dent Mark Brand to send letters to all the county’s elected representatives including Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The letter notes that in his Executive Budget the governor “bragged about how school aid increases education aid by $889 million, or 4.4 percent, driving an average increase of more than $300 per student per year.

“Based on the governor’s presentation, I was looking forward to an increase in aid. I would like to know how a statewide increase of 4.4 percent translates in a net loss for our school.”

The wall mural the BOE turned down last winter due to concerns it would be damaged during the building project, but which was funded in the 2012/13 budget, was approved after much discussion with art teacher Lauren Arsenault.

BOE President Jon Voorhees cast the lone nay vote. He is concerned that spending the money when the budget is so tight would send the wrong message to voters.

Other board members disagree, because the cost of the project is totally covered with $1,600 in the current budget and a $1,500 decentralization grant received through the Adirondack Lakes Center for the Arts.

The Arts-In-Education project will involve students and volunteers from the community working with Saratoga Springs artist Susan Shanley to create a ‘natural world’ mural on the main corridor wall during early June.

OTHER BUSINESS

• The board approved an increase in the partial tax exemption for people with limited income who are age 65 or older. These are the same exemptions approved by the Indian Lake Town Board in January.

• Chip Farr was approved as the varsity girls’ softball coach.

• Erica Dumont and Kaylan Bennet talked about how much they have enjoyed and how much they have learned during their BOCES Career and Technical Education health care studies. Both girls plan to go on to college to become registered nurses.

     

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