AuSable Valley Superintendent Paul Savage speaks during a school board meeting.
Even under the best of circumstances, the AuSable Valley Central School District will be looking at a deficit as it prepares the 2013-14 budget.
As a result, Superintendent Paul Savage presented three plans to the AVCS Board of Education during its March 20 meeting, with deficits ranging from $834,494 to $1,119,223.
However, those numbers may decrease when the state passes a budget, Savage said.
“We are going to have to find the money to close a gap no matter what,” Savage said. “It may be only $400,000 or $500,000 if we are lucky and we get some funding re-instated from the state. But that is a significant gap and we can't tell you much more because we do not have the final numbers from the state,” he said.
Savage said he was not going to start looking at cutting specific areas until he had the final numbers from the state.
“Our goal is to not be over-reactive,” he said. “We do not want to over-hype it and get people thinking that the sky is falling. That has always been our goal and that is how I operate.”
The district has a tax levy threshold cap of 5.96-percent, allowing it to raise up to $12,783,822 in property tax revenue, which would be a $719,060 increase from the $12,064,762 raised in 2012-13.
Under the cap, the district currently faces a deficit of $834,494 in revenue under a budget calling for $30,187,165 in spending.
Savage also presented proposals for a 4.6 and 3.6 percent tax levy increase, which would leave deficits of $998,575 and $1,119,223, respectively.
“We have no intention of exceeding a tax cap threshold,” Savage said. “I do not feel that we are in that situation and I would not recommend doing it. Do we like this, no. But it is a fact and we are going to deal with it. We have lost about 14 percent in aid and that is a financial hardship on any district.”
Savage said the current budget plan calls for $231,000 in fund balance that is coming from a premium that was part of the capital project. He added that he would be concerned using more fund balance, which is currently around $675,000.
“Our fund balance is not large and for us, we have to think beyond one year we have to look two or three years out,” Savage said. “If we are going to use that, we have to be systematic about how we use it because something can happen.”
Savage said that no matter what the state numbers come to, the district will work to keep quality programs while providing a budget that can be paid for by those in the district.
“I think that we as a whole have done a god job maintaining our programs and being able to save a little in fund balance in the past,” he said. “I hope that we can continue to do that again after this year. We are not magicians. We do our best to maximize what we have and do our best with it. We have tried to always watch those two numbers and keep them to where we can maintain what we have and taxpayers can continue to afford it.”
The next school board meeting is planned for Wednesday, April 17, and will include a budget workshop and the potential approval of the 2013-14 budget by the board. That budget would be voted on by district residents Tuesday, May 21, with the budget hearing scheduled for Wednesday, May 8, at 6:30 p.m.