Hannibal Board of Ed To Discuss Budget Tonight

HANNIBAL, NY – The Hannibal Board of Education has slated a special meeting for this evening to start to discuss its next steps in the 2008-09 budget process.

District voters rejected the $25.1 million proposed budget May 20 with 358 voters against the plan to 279 in favor. The spending plan represented a 5.21 percent budget-to-budget increase over the current year’s spending.

A proposition request to allow the district to purchase up to three new school buses at a cost not to exceed $293,321 was approved by voters, however. Voters supported the request 328 to 284.

Information posted on the district’s Web site explains that under state law, the rejection means that the Hannibal Board of Education could immediately adopt a contingent budget or schedule one more budget vote using the same numbers or a revised budget. If the budget is defeated a second time, the board must adopt a contingency budget. The site notes, however, that certain regulations restrict spending under contingency, which may affect program and/or staffing.

Hannibal Superintendent Michael DiFabio said this morning that he has not had much discussion with the board about its next steps to date.

DiFabio pointed out, however, that the district’s proposed budget was already under the contingency budget level.

“We’re already below a contingent level budget,” DiFabio said. “A contingency budget would have given the district about $600,000 more. … But the board would not consider going that route.”

Because the proposed budget is lower than contingency, DiFabio said that the board could adopt a budget at the current level or lower. He noted, however, that going with a contingency budget would eliminate the district’s ability to purchase equipment for this budget cycle.

“We would have to take out approximately $57,000 for the bus purchases,” he said.

“We adopted a budget that was below the contingent level because we only went with our current levels and sustaining needs,” DiFabio noted. “We looked at the budget from a holistic standpoint and tried to stick to bare bones.”

DiFabio pointed out that the district is slated to receive approximately $1 million less in the state aid roll out than it anticipated.

“Based on Eliot Spitzer’s five-year roll out plan, we expected more (aid) that would have been used to sustain our plan,” DiFabio said. “Because we didn’t, we have had trouble.”

Though unsure what the board’s decision will be, DiFabio said he believes another vote may be on the horizon.

“My gut feeling is that (the board) will try to get another vote out so that the community will have a chance to speak about this,” DiFabio said.

The special meeting is slated for 7 p.m., tonight. It will be held in the board of education room at the Hannibal High School.