Proposed Oswego School Budget A Little ‘Smoother’

OSWEGO, NY – At Tuesday night’s school board meeting, Superintendent Bill Crist presented a “smoother” version of his 2013-14 spending plan.

Last month, the superintendent presented an overview of his proposed budget. He proposed a budget of $78,439,112 which is 2.4% more than the current budget. The tentative budget also included the potential reduction of 11.6 full-time positions.

At the March meeting, Crist explained that some of the revenue numbers were tentative as the state budget process continued.

“There is discussion of further state aid, and a proposed ‘smoothing’ of the Employee and Teacher Retirement System payments,” he said, adding that further information would be available for the April 9 meeting.

“We’re in better shape than we were a couple weeks ago, Crist announced Tuesday night.

In March, he pointed out, they projected a tax rate increase of 3 percent.

“At that time we didn’t know about the retirements, or very few of the retirements that you just looked at,” he told the board referring to the list that was discussed at a committee meeting just minutes prior to the regular board meeting. “We also didn’t know the evolution of the Employee and Teacher Retirement System stabilization concept (smoothing) that the governor had proposed.”

The proposed budget now stands at about $77,940,000. The number of positions impacted has dropped to 8.6. And, the tax rate will increase only 2 percent, Crist said.

Under the state smoothing plan, the district can defer for the 2013-14 school year ERS contributions of $738,000.

“It will allow the district to lower the tax rate and allow the district restore three of the positions,” Crist said. “We did also receive some additional funds from the legislative budget that was adopted by New York State. It’s not a significant amount of money, but it does help. Every little bit helps.”

It also changes the tax rate slightly, the superintendent said. It was 19.42 and now it’s 19.23, he said.

“We are still being sensitive to the reductions based on enrollment,” he said.

“It’s my concern that we’re not restoring these positions because we’ve got some extra money. If we’re restoring positions, it’s got to be for need,” board member Sam Tripp said.

“Correct. Absolutely,” Crist agreed. “When we see retirements, we really need to scrutinize – this year and every year going forward – if we really need to fill that position or not. Is it really affecting programs, student instructions?”

The district will also put a replacement proposition of a dozen buses before the voters on May 21. This would include seven 66-passenger budgets, two seven-passenger Suburbans as well as two 30-passenger buses and a 30-passenger wheelchair bus.

The total cost would be $99,790. State aid would provide $670,859 back to the district.

Budget Calendar

April 24: School board to vote on budget
April 26: Final legal date for adoption by the board (state law)
May 1: Deadline for submission of petitions for nominations of board of education candidates
May 7: Public hearing on budget
May 21: Public vote