SILVER CREEK - The Silver Creek Board of Education is taking a look at its budget prospects a little early this year.
At the board's workshop Wednesday Superintendent Daniel Ljiljanich and Business Administrator Cindy Mackowiak went over the formula for the school to determine the amount it is allowed to raise the tax levy in the 2013-14 school year.
It was explained many of the figures are preliminary because the school has not received numbers like the growth factor and the amount the teachers retirement system contribution will increase.
OBSERVER Photo by Nicole Gugino
Superintendent Daniel Ljiljanich (left) explains the formula for the tax levy cap to the Silver Creek School Board. Also pictured are board members Marjorie Foxton (center) and Greg Cole.
In addition to going over exclusions for the employee and teacher retirement systems (ERS and TRS respectively), it was also explained the district can utilize a "carryover" from last year. Carryover is the amount up to 1.5 percent the district could have raised in taxes for the 2012-13 school year but didn't and can instead raise the following year if it so chooses.
In the 2012-13 budget the board chose to raise the tax levy 2 percent, equating to $5,512,849, with a possible carryover of $26,061.
It was explained a 2 percent increase for 2013-14 would increase this number by $110,257. Including exclusions but not carryover, this number would equate to an increase of 2.95 percent or $162,897. Including both exclusions and carryover the district could allowably raise the tax levy by 6.62 percent or $364,820.
Ljiljanich said the biggest question is how much the board wants to raise the levy.
"I think the biggest question is 'how much of the exclusions are we interested in as a community in adding back into the 2 percent?'" he said.
Board President Martha Howard commented on the situation the board finds itself in - whether to raise taxes or use the fund balance until it is gone.
"When you look at that 6.62 percent, it's disgusting. We've never done anything like that, but when you look at that as opposed to using up what you have saved and knowing that a few years down the line you're going to have nothing. I don't know," she said.
Ljiljanich said the board is right to be worried about draining savings because there are school districts in the situation of having no fund balance and no reserves and they are left to wonder where to turn to fund programs.
He wanted to make sure this year the public is aware the tax levy cap doesn't necessarily mean 2 percent, there are exclusions which were made available to schools because they are determined by the state. He explained the reason for having these discussions early is to have transparency and have questions asked early.
The board will have several workshops on the budget beginning in the new year and will again host a public forum on the budget in February. The next board meeting will be held on Jan. 13 with a workshop on athletics and technology.
In other business, Director of Pupil Services Lynne Gowan presented on the districts consolidated grants which is funding from the federal government and distributed through the state based on formulas. Gowan went over grants from the departments of education: Title I A and Title II A, and special education: Sections 611 and 619.
The district received $28,000 less of Title I A funding for 2012-13 than it did for 2011-12 and also saw smaller decreases in both sections 611 and 619. Ljiljanich explained less of this funding translates directly to fewer programs.
"The money that we receive from these grants goes directly into salaries. If we lose that then we lose programs," he said.
The board accepted the resignation of teacher, dean and mentor coordinator Marcy Sweetman, who accepted a position with BOCES.
The board authorized a contract with Asset Control Solutions for an asset inventory. Ljiljanich said this hasn't been done in a few years and it was suggested in an audit this be done.
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