By JIMMY LAWTON
POTSDAM -- Potsdam school board members have unanimously passed a budget that would increase the tax levy by $454,098 and cut the equivalent of 5.5 full-time positions.
The budget also restores a music teaching position, which had been reduced to half-time, after the decision to eliminate the position drew public outcry.
"The budget, which was once again developed under difficult financial circumstances, balances staffing cuts, a tax levy increase, and use of our reserves and fund balance," Superintendent Patrick Brady said in an email.
Brady said the $27,324,782 budget increased spending by $541,986 or 2.02 percent, over the previous year.
Taxypayers will contribute $11,844,369, which is a 3.9 or $454,098 more than in the 2012-13. The budget is under the state's " property tax cap" which would have allowed an increase of up 4.75 percent or $541,440.
"We were fortunate to receive $100,000 in bullet aid from Assemblywomen Russell which combined with additional aid from the legislature allows the district to reduce the number of staff cuts from 11 to 5.5," Brady said.
The remainder are being cut partly by attrition, but also with 2.5 layoffs, according to Brady.
"Due to the fact we are receiving $1.1 million less in state aid now than in 2008-09 it is not difficult to see the problem. The continued rise in health insurance and pension costs alone caused an increase of almost $1 million in the budget," he said. "This cannot be sustained over time. So while we have a responsible budget and are appreciative of all the input we received this year including the community forums, we know there is much work to do on the road ahead."
Voters will have a chance to approve or reject the school budget May 21.
"We hope that the Potsdam community will consider all of these factors when they come out to vote."
A summary of the budget follows:
• The proposed budget is $27,324,782 which is an increase of $541,986 or 2.02%.
• Projected Tax Levy – is $11,844,369 which is a 3.9% or $454,098 increase from 2012-13; proposal is below the 4.75% or $541,440 increase allowed under the tax cap
• Use of $1,605,000 in reserves and fund balance
• Transfer from Debt Service--$312,000
• Retirement Contribution Reserve-$233,000
• Unemployment Reserve-$60,000
• Estimated Appropriated Fund Balance- $1,000,000
• Staff/Program Reductions-$565,299
Reductions in 2013-14 Budget
• 1 Math Teacher—$80,211 (Attrition)
• .5 ELA Teacher—$39,503
• 1 HS Teacher Aide—$21,150 (Attrition)
• 1 Special Education Teacher—$62,906 (Attrition)
• Take back of BOCES Services—$306,503
• Food Service—$11,990 (Cashier & Cafeteria Monitor)
• Misc. Reductions—ex. retirement savings--$43,036