B-P school board eyes rising costs for next school year

BROADALBIN – Broadalbin-Perth Central School District Business Administrator Marco Zumbolo presented the second draft of the 2013-14 budget to the Board of Education at its meeting Monday.

The draft of the budget has a $675,373 – or 2.3 percent – increase in expenditures after state aid is taken into account.

“There is a lot of work still to be done,” Zumbolo said. “We still have to have our budget workshops where we will go line by line and really get into every piece of the budget pie. We still have a ways to go.”

The draft includes reinstating all junior varsity and modified sports programs that were eliminated last year to cut costs.

During the meeting, Superintendent Stephen Tomlinson said the athletic teams and community supporting the JV programs were able to raise the goal of $42,000 to allow them to be offered again at the district.

Budget items

The draft is a “rollover budget,” which shows the cost to continue services at the previous year’s levels but factors in expected annual increases in appropriations for contractual salaries, employee and retiree benefits and BOCES services.

The rollover budget doesn’t take into consideration the property tax-levy cap but is “the first step in reducing the projected expenditures in the rollover budget to a level that complies with the restrictions of the property tax cap,” Zumbolo wrote in a letter to the board and Tomlinson about the draft.

Zumbolo said he expects to have a draft for the revenue side of the budget at the next board meeting in March.

The noticeable increases come in contractual salaries and employee/retiree benefits, which represented nearly 60 percent of 2012-13 expenditures.

The total expected increase for these two expenses in the 2013-14 projected budget is $879,913.

Zumbolo said the district can likely expect a net gain in state aid of around $150,000. No other revenue is likely to increase, he said, and the amount currently appropriated in the fund balance is approximately half of what was actually utilized in 2012-13.

Zumbolo said more fund balance than initially expected will need to be used this year due to unanticipated reductions in building aid, transportation aid, and some cost-based aids.

The “maximum allowable tax levy” increase for the district, as defined by the tax cap legislation, is $771,664 – or 5.98 percent – for the 2013-14 school year.

In the coming month, he said, the Board of Education might have to make about $900,000 in cuts to get below the tax cap, depending on how much revenue is available.

Any tax-levy increase above 5.98 percent would require 60 percent of voters to approve it.

Last year at this time, the board was faced with expiration of more than $750,000 from the Federal Education Jobs Fund program, a reduction in anticipated State Aid of more than $150,000, and a significant reduction in available fund balance because of the appropriation of $1.5 million in fund balance to maintain programs for 2011-12.

Zumbolo said this year the board still faces challenges but “does not present as bleak an outlook for instructional and extracurricular programs.”

However, he said, the board will have to face the possibility of some staff and program reductions.

He did note the board’s efforts over the year to solidify fiscal reserves and provide reasonable unreserved fund balance has put the district in a better financial position than previous years.

The budget vote is scheduled for May 21.

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