Saranac Lake Central School Assistant Superintendent for Business Dan Bower gives a budget presentation to the School Board Feb. 1 at the Petrova School library.
The Saranac Lake Central School Board got a taste of the 2012-13 budgetary process Wednesday, Feb. 1, as Assistant Superintendent for Business Dan Bower revealed a spending plan scenario held for the first time under the state’s new 2 percent tax cap.
If the budget was adopted today, there would be a $1.585 million budget gap to make up, with an estimated $26,853,128 in revenue and $28,438,257 in expenses. See the budget presentation.
“The good news is we don’t have to adopt a budget tonight,” Bower said to board members at their regular meeting in the Petrova library.
Much of the expense increases would come from the health insurance and retirement system, and the spending increase is an estimated $1,283,355, or .47 percent, from the current budget.
State aid is set to decrease for Saranac Lake to an estimated $7,235,999, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed state budget, down $373,116 or 4.9 percent from the current year’s $7,609,115. Those are the numbers Bower is using, since it is unknown whether they will be changed through the state budget process.
“There’s not a lot of reason to be optimistic,” Bower said.
Bower and Superintendent Gerald Goldman will be spending time with administrators, School Board members and the Budget Advisory Committee over the next couple of months in order to shape a budget they can take to the voters on Tuesday, May 15. They will communicate with state legislators to see what’s happening in Albany. And they will monitor the budget to maximize the fund balance, which is “leftover” money in the district’s coffers that is set aside for emergencies and to use for “revenues” during the budget process.
While the fund balance currently exceeds $870,000, according to Bower, he feels safe using $600,000 right now as a revenue source in the 2012-13 spending plan.
As for the tax cap, Bower estimates that the state would allow a $496,742 maximum increase this year. But that number is preliminary, since the state calculates the maximum tax increase with an eight-step formula.
“We don’t know at least six of those steps right now,” Bower said.
The tax levy for the 2011-12 school year is $18,295,387.
The school district invites taxpayers to attend its public budget hearings and announced the budget-planning schedule on Feb. 1, when the process was officially kicked off.
Here is the rest of the schedule:
Feb. 15: Budget Workshop at regular BOE meeting
March 1: Submit information to calculate Tax Levy Limit on Office of State Comptroller’s website
March 7: Second Public Budget Forum and budget workshop at regular BOE meeting
March 21: Budget Workshop at regular BOE meeting
April 20 (Latest Possible Date): Adopt 2012-13 meeting at special BOE meeting
April 21 : Districts Must Transmit “Property Tax Report Card” to SED
May 1: Budget booklets and required attachments distributed
May 8 : Public Hearing on the Budget
May 9: Deadline for Mailing “Budget Notice” (6 days before vote)
May 15: Annual Budget Vote and School Board Election