WARRENSBURG - Lowering heating fuel costs by contracting for a fixed price is among the actions under consideration by the local school board as they work to cut back expenses in the 2009-2010 budget.
Monday, the Warrensburg Central School Board's met together with the newly-appointed Citizen's Advisory Board to conduct a line-by-line examination of the buildings and grounds expenditures and transportation costs of the school district.
The school board members and school administrators will be seeking out a fuel supplier that is willing to offer a fixed contract price for heating fuel over 18 months rather than paying prevailing market prices, board budget committee chairman Linda Marcella said.
"We'll take every dime we can it cutting costs," she said.
The board estimated that savings of a fixed price for heating fuel, expected to be near the current market price of $1.68, would save the taxpayers about $80,000 of the $282,000 now budgeted. The latter figure assumes a $3.25 average cost of fuel over the budget year, she said.
Although the school district might theoretically save more - if fuel prices continue their downward spiral from last year's record high prices - by buying fuel at a market price, Marcella said this gamble would be very unlikely to pay off.
The school board also talked with administrators Monday about the use of busses and route-planning with an eye on consolidating routes and cutting bus usage.
The board also took a straw poll on whether to prepare a letter of intent to purchase a new bus at a contract price, and they voted in favor of the non-binding action.
Monday's budget meeting was the seventh in a series that will be continuing until April, Marcella said. The next school district budget meeting is set for 6 p.m. March 2 in the high school library.
Their preliminary cost-cutting proposals, which now total an estimated over $300,000, include unplugging a cable television in the school district bus garage, removing pay phones from the schools - or negotiating to obtain them for free - and reducing frequency of trash pickup.
Also under consideration is outsourcing mass-mailings, which is estimated to save over $10,000 per year.
Warrensburg School District Business Manager Kevin Polunci has advised board members that State Aid would likely decrease $356,847 for the 2009-10 school year from its present $19.5 million spending plan.
Board members have talked in recent weeks of cutting costs up to 10 percent - or maintain a zero local property tax increase, and they've suggested reopening the teacher's union contract to reduce pending pay increases or shift a percentage of the rising cost of benefits to the teachers.
Instructional costs are now $10.5 million annually in the school district.
Tax savings of personnel cost reductions would likely be a hefty amount, negotiations with the Warrensburg Teachers Association to reopen the contract are still pending.
The board's budget committee has expressed its intent to cut unnecessary costs while maintaining core academics, and citizens sitting through the two-hour meeting Monday said they were pleased the board was not talking of cutting programs but were instead examining non-academic budget items for potential cuts.