HANNIBAL, NY – Voters will be given a second opportunity to weigh in on Hannibal Central School District’s proposed budget next month.
The board of education hosted a special meeting this week to discuss its options and review the numbers in the spending plan that was defeated at the polls May 20. In the end, a change was made, however, the bottom line will stay the same for the second vote.
Hannibal Business Administrator Nancy Henner explained that the board of education decided Wednesday to remove a bus purchase that would have been funded through the regular budget lines to enhance the transportation line for diesel fuel purchases.
“The board decided to remove the bus purchase from the budget,” Henner said. She noted that with the rising costs of fuel, the board opted to take the money that would have been used for that bus — $62,000 — and put the funds in the fuel line.
Henner pointed out that the bus that would have been funded through the budget is separate from the three bus purchases that district voters approved through a proposition last week.
“In previous years, the district has always purchased one bus from the budget,” Henner said. Buses funded through the budget do not have to go up for a proposition vote, she noted.
“We will still purchase three buses next year,” she said. “They just decided not to put that fourth bus in the budget.”
No other changes were made to the proposed spending plan, she said.
“The budget number is exactly the same at $25,122,068,” Henner said.
Henner said that while the budget was defeated, the board decided additional cuts would cause more harm than good for students.
“The board did not want to reduce the budget because it would hurt program,” Henner said. “The goal is to sustain program. They could have made cuts but it truly would have hurt program for our students.”
Superintendent Michael DiFabio explained earlier this week that the proposed budget that was put before voters is already below contingency level by approximately $600,000.
In the first vote, the budget was defeated by 79 votes. If the second vote is defeated, Henner said that the board will be mandated to adopt a contingency budget. She explained that the district could adopt at contingency level or below; meaning it could adopt the same numbers that are being put to a vote.
“There was some discussion from people at the meeting about raising the (budget to contingency level),” Henner said. “But when you raise the budget, you also raise the levy. When you have a community that has said ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“no,’ what do you do?
“There were people at the meeting who, the next day, said ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“Wow,'” Henner said. “I think a lot of people didn’t understand how much under contingent level we actually are.”
Henner noted that the district will host another public hearing on the budget June 10 at 7 p.m. The mandatory uniform revote date is set for June 17.
If defeated a second time, the district will be required to adopt a contingency budget. Henner said certain spending restrictions would then apply.
“We would have to look at some equipment lines,” she said. “The state has given boards of education the ability to say what is contingent spending.
“If the board decides something is a contingent expense, we can make the purchase,” she noted. “It is up to them but there are some restrictions.”
Information on the proposed budget can be found on the district’s Web site.