It takes about six months to build the budget that Fulton City School District taxpayers vote on each May. The Board of Education may add to an already long process for the 2012 budget.
It will begin in early December, said Superintendent of Schools Bill Lynch, with a Dec. 3 workshop for the board “to discuss parameters — the context in which we will be building the budget — the knowns and the unknowns.”
The district will also use the budget committee that it has used for several years as a way to gather advice and feedback. The committee consists of members of the board, some administrators, and some members of the community who volunteer for the job.
New Board of Education member Fred Cavalier served as a community member of the budget committee.
The committee will meet twice a month, on the Tuesdays when the board is not holding its regular meeting.
Lynch suggested that the board consider using at least one of the advisory committee meeting nights for a community forum, to try to reach a broader audience.
The process of building a budget may be similar to the process used in years past, but there will be a significant difference in the budget itself.
The tax levy cap imposed by Governor Cuomo will limit increases in the tax levy (and not overall tax increases) to 2% unless 60% of voters agree to a larger increase.
But state agencies are still trying to interpret the new law so schools and local governments can stay within its guidelines.
“The (state) Comptroller’s Office is still trying to figure it out,” said board President Robbin Griffin of what she heard at a recent statewide convention.
The new law has already imposed one condition which doesn’t seem logical: By March 1, districts must tell the state what it’s planning for a tax levy increase. However, districts won’t know how much state aid they will get — and therefore, how much of the budget must be made up by local taxes — until at least a month later, if the state budget passed by its traditionally-ignored April 1 deadline.