Gloversville school budget to stay within state tax cap

PHOTOGRAPHER:
Outgoing Gloversville schools superintendent Michael Vanyo makes his last budget presentation Tuesday night to a mostly empty auditorium at the Gloversville Middle School. (The Leader-Herald/Jason Subik)

GLOVERSVILLE — The Gloversville Enlarged School District Board of Education presented its $61.5 million 2017-18 school budget Tuesday night to an almost empty auditorium at Gloversville Middle School.

Outgoing Superintendent Michael Vanyo made the presentation.

“Last year, the way the [New York state property] tax cap worked for us, we could only increase the budget by negative six percent. So, we went to a zero, which was no increase, and we still had to get a 60 percent super majority vote to override the cap,” Vanyo said. “This year, we’re staying within the cap. The formula changes every year, depending on issues like debt service and other things. This year we could increase the tax levy 1.52 percent, that’s what we’ve proposed. So the tax levy for 2017-18 is going to increase to $14.4 million compared to last year when it was $14.2 million.”

The 2017-18 budget increases spending by about 1.01 percent, — $655,377 — even after $1.5 million in cuts were achieved through eliminating about 18 positions, including teaching positions, an administrator, custodians, clerical workers and a nurse.

About 14 of the position cut were related to the district’s schools reconfiguration, a process that took about two years and was approved by a vote of the school board in February.

Called “the delivery of instruction change,” Gloversville, this fall, will begin a hybrid approach that combines neighborhood schools and grade-level grouping for students from pre-k through grade 2 going to primary school at either Kingsborough Elementary or Park Terrace Elementary. Pupils in grades 3 to 5 would all go to Boulevard Elementary.

Meco Elementary will close, while McNab Elementary School will now house the Whispering Pines and Headstart programs, along with several special-needs classes of the Hamilton-Fulton-Montgomery Board of Cooperative Educational Services that are currently renting space in Boulevard Elementary.

Spending increased for Gloversville’s budget despite all of these cuts due to a $783,648 spike in fringe benefits costs, bringing their total cost from $14.6 million to $15.4 million. There’s also $86,125 hike in the cost of BOCES services.

State aid in the budget increased by $563,315. State aid accounts for about 72 percent of the district’s total budget. The budget also spends $434,873 of the district’s unappropriated fund balance, its reserve of unspent tax revenues.

School Board President Richard Carlson said ever since New York instituted the tax cap, there have been smaller crowds at school district budget hearings, which he said may be a sign that the public is satisfied with the process. He said Gloversville residents were also very active in the district’s reconfiguration process, so many people may have felt their voices had already been heard.

“I’m pleased with the way the budget turned out. We’ve had some very challenging fiscal times and what we’ve tried to do with developing this budget is maintain as many of the programs as we could,” Carlson said. “In order to do that, and stay within the tax cap, we had to deplete some of our reserve fund. We have to continue to look for ways to economize these programs.”

The school budget vote for Gloversville will be May 16, with polls open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Gloversville High School gym and the Bleecker Town Hall.

There will also be three school board positions up for election with four candidates running for the seats: Richard Carlson, Sharon Poling, John Lott and Paula Brown-Weinstock.

By Chad Fleck

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