Press-Republican

Local News

May 13, 2013

ELCS tax levy up almost 4%

School also struggling with retirement, benefit costs

(Continued)

Level 2 reductions addressed staffing positions. Job eliminations were accomplished by attrition when possible. In addition, 2.5 instructional positions have been reduced and a full-time support staff position has been changed to half time.

The amount budgeted for salaries decreased $18,330, due to retirements, reduced employment and recent restructuring of administration, moving from three administrators to two.

Spending on Social Security, supplies, materials and contractual costs was reduced by $25,099. Debt service dropped $8,800, as the district refinanced its bonds last year.

Fuel costs were reduced $3,800. ELCS purchases its fuel cooperatively through BOCES, and the bid price was lower than anticipated.

COST IMPACT

Osborne said two major factors contributed to financial woes.

Fixed costs associated with contractual obligations, such as salaries, benefits, health insurance and Retirement System contributions, are rising.

In addition, state aid has been decreasing over the years.

“This was an abnormal year where we experienced a slight restoration in our state aid when the Legislature agreed on a state budget,” Osborne said. “However, we are still forced to take large amounts from our reserves to use as a revenue source due to depleting state aid.”

The upcoming EXCEL capital renovation project, approved by the voters on March 5, is not a component of the budget. The money comes from state building aid, one-time funding from the state and a 16-year bond.

BALANCE

“We strive to implement a public school program of high quality and cost-effectiveness,” Osborne said. “This proposed budget brings balance to our spending plan for next school year.

“The staff and community provided suggestions as to how we could streamline our operations and work more efficiently. Those suggestions helped us reduce approximately $285,000 in expenditures, which ultimately supports a more balanced budget for everyone in the big picture.

“There will be impact to academic and extra-curricular programs. In the event a program is impacted, the program will be reduced rather than eliminated; that’s a big difference in how you look at it.

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