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Budget savings GASD spending and seeking less

Wednesday, May 07, 2014 - Updated: 10:22 AM

By NICOLE ANTONUCCI

nicole.antonucci@recordernews.com

Three residents showed up for Tuesday's public hearing on the Greater Amsterdam School District's $63,315,237 proposed budget, which calls for 3.75 percent tax levy decrease.

During the 15-minute session, district Superintendent Thomas Perillo and Business Manager Kim Brumley quickly reviewed the 2014-15 spending plan, which represents a $92,243 decrease compared to the current budget.

"We are spending less money and levying less taxes," Brumley said.

The tax levy is $20,634,525, an $803,000 decrease compared to the current budget.

This is due to a $1 million agreement with the Target distribution center in the town of Florida, which puts the levy over the allowable tax cap, Perillo said.

Residents will see a decrease in the tax rate. For the city of Amsterdam, the estimated tax rate is $28.13 per $1,000 of assessed value. This is a $1.90 decrease.

Programs and staffing will remain in tact. Brumley said because of additional funding from the Target PILOT program, and an additional $1,031,000 in state aid, the district is able to replace 11 veteran staff members who are retiring this year with positions where there is a need.

The district added eight teachers in kindergarten, fourth grade, special education, art and music to address "population bubbles," as well as three support staff positions. An assistant principal position was also added to the middle school.

In addition, the extra funding has allowed district officials to fund one-time expenditures, including the first year of the Pathways in Technology Early College High School (PTECH) program and the replacement of band uniforms.

The district also established a retirement reserve, which can be used when the state and local retirement payments exceed anticipated appropriations.

"This was an opportunity for the district and the board because everything came into place this year," Brumley said. "This is the way to spend that money. You don't want to use it on ongoing expenditures."

The district's fund balance also saw an increase from 3.37 percent to 4.4 percent. Brumley said it is partially due to less reliance on the fund balance to balance the budget.

In previous years, the district was taking approximately $4.5 million from the fund balance, a process that had placed the district on the state comptroller's "fiscally stressed" list.

Brumley said the 4.4 percent is slightly above the state comptroller's recommendation that districts maintain a fund balance of 4 percent of the total budget.

"I am quite pleased with this number [4.4 percent]," she said. "It helps put us in a good place moving forward."

Also on the ballot this year will be a $5,000 proposition for the Fort Hunter Library. There are also four candidates seeking three open seats on the board of education.

The budget vote is May 20. Polls will be open from noon to 9 p.m. Voters are reminded that the district has reduced the number of polling sites from seven to four.

     

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