By NICOLE GUGINO
OBSERVER Assistant News Editor
Increasing expenditures was the message of the first look at the 2013-14 budget at the Dunkirk Board of Education meeting Thurs-day.
OBSERVER Photo by Nicole Gugino
Business Manager William Thiel gave the Dunkirk Board of Education its first presentation on the budget Thursday.
Business Manager Will-iam Thiel presented the projected budget for 2013-14 if no cuts were made from the 2012-13 budget to determine the amount costs have risen.
He explained many of the budget lines can be maintained with no change; however, payroll will increase $761,668 and benefits will increase $1,449,642.
"Our budget right now before we take any action, it grows pretty substantially, by about 6.8 percent. That primarily is the benefit line. Benefits and payroll is what school districts run on," he said.
Other changes included decreasing debt service by $92,446 and increasing BOCES spending by $250,000 due to already running over the budgeted amount in 2012-13.
Superintendent Gary Cerne said the district is hoping to control the increases in payroll and benefits by offering an early retirement incentive.
"We are able to keep almost everything flat but being a school, 80 percent of our money is personnel. So (payroll and benefits) are the two biggest lines because of the nature of our business ... We are hoping with the right number of retirements we will be able to chisel that number down," he said.
Cerne explained if 12 teachers decided to take the incentive and retire before Feb. 15, the district will be able to realize a savings of 50 to 70 percent on the $761,668 increase in payroll and a smaller savings in the benefits increase.
The board approved the retirement incentive agreement unanimously for members of the CSEA and the Dunkirk Teachers' Association.
Cerne said after the meeting the board's goal is to keep the tax rate flat as it has done for the past several years; however, it is going to be "another tough year."
He added in the face of uncontrollable matters such as the fiscal cliff and the state budget which could affect the district's aid, the board is trying to focus on what it can control.
"You hear all these doom and gloom forecasts but we are just trying to focus on the things we can control, the expenditure side. If this cliff does come through and we are talking about losing federal funds it will definitely have an impact on us," he said. "The latest we are hearing (from the state) is people should be happy to get the current level of aid next year. The devastation from Hurricane Sandy has put the state in a terrible financial crisis that needs to be addressed. The state only has so much money and if they have to address that crisis it could take away from money that could potentially go to education."
Cerne said the board will continue to work on the budget and will know more about the state budget in January and more about the number of retirements in mid-February.
The board will next meet Jan. 10.
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