Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Budget Hearing

I was pleasantly surprised to walk into a packed C-13 last night for the annual budget hearing. Then the board recognized Mr. Fairchild's 4th and 5th grade students for their statewide award for the Go Green Initiative--and everyone left.

I assume the lack of interest means that the budget will pass easily. Or perhaps it just means that everyone has given up. In a nutshell, the proposed budget is 2.06 percent below the 2010-2011 budget. The tax levy increase is estimated at +5.5 percent--not as high as in some places in the region, but substantially higher than Ithaca's or Lansing's. On the ballot will be (1) a proposal to spend $34,230,682 in 2011-2012; (2) a proposal to buy buses (with cash, so as not to pay interest on a bond) for $362,777; and (3) a proposal to spend up to $20K out of the capital reserve toward replacing the falling-apart bleachers in the MS/HS. It's not my number-one capital priority, but I guess it was the board's.

Expenses that went up were nearly all personnel-related--salary and benefit and pension increases. Expenses that went down included supplies, utilities, and debt service. Foundation aid from the state was frozen, and the legislature gave back $284,801 over the governor's budget, some of which was used to reduce a 6 percent levy to 5.5 percent and to add back four teachers and an aide plus field trips, athletic supplies, a coach, and participation in the Science Olympiad.

The district plans to use their fund balance over the next three years to reduce the levy, by which I think they mean to maintain the levy or keep it from spiking. The governor has suggested that by 2015, we might be out of this hole.

In 2010-2011, Dryden got 50.59 percent of the budget from the state and 44.1 percent from local share. In 2011-2012, it will get 48.55 percent from the state and 47.5 percent from local share. (The difference between those figures and 100 percent is miscellaneous revenue from tuition and sales.)

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