Massena school board okays 2014-2015 budget that calls for 1.6 percent tax hike
Friday, April 25, 2014 - 6:00 am

By ANDY GARDNER

MASSENA -- The Board of Education unanimously voted Thursday to adopt a 2014-2015 budget that calls for a 1.64-percent tax increase over last year.

Finance committee chairman Loren Fountain said the tax rate hasn’t been finalized, but the owner of a property assessed at $100,000 can expect their tax bill to go up $21 from last year. He said the rate will be set by Saturday, when the property tax report card is due.

The spending plan is subject to voter approval on May 20.

It calls for total spending of $49,051,678 and $3,504,887 of that will come from the fund balance.

The board was looking down the barrel of a $3.7 million budget gap, despite receiving $1.58 million more in state aid than last year.

“We are dependent on state aid,” Fountain said.

Some of the budget shortfall is due to anticipated expense increases of $2,537,563. The biggest jump is the BOCES bill, which is going up about $1.3 million. Contractual salary obligations will cost $683,734 more than last year and employee benefits are jumping by $855,965.

The budget calls for $202,000 in cuts to close the remainder of the shortfall.

There are two-and-a-half positions on the chopping block. One is a full-time custodial worker, who will either be cut or reassigned, Fountain said. They are also eliminating a half-time nurse position. A full-time teacher will go to attrition when the person retires.

Classroom printers are getting phased out. They will not be replaced when they die. The classroom supply budget is getting slashed by half and miscellaneous ancillary supplies are getting cut.

“These cuts are not final, they are subject to change,” according to Fountain.

To create and extra revenue stream, the district will rent server room space to St. Lawrence-Lewis BOCES.

Five new 66-passenger buses will be purchased from the general fund, at a cost not to exceed $523,705.

The district in the past has included bus purchases as a separate ballot measure, but instead chose to buy them as a budget line item. They will not be purchased through bonding.

Business manager Nick Brouliette said this will save money as interest payments.

The board will hold a public budget hearing on May 13.

Fountain’s presentation he gave at Thursday’s meeting will be available on the school’s website.