Delay in school aid predicted to compound taxpayer burden

ADIRONDACKS - Gov. Paterson's recent actions in delaying school aid payments will force school district taxpayers across New York to shoulder an additional financial burden, the head of the New Yorkz State School Boards Association said this week.

In March, Gov.David Paterson delayed the payment of $2.1 billion, and School Board Association Executive Director Timothy Kremer said that Paterson is merely shifting the state's financial shortfall on local taxpayers.

"To cover this delay in state aid, local officials are going to have to borrow money and pay interest on those funds or remove money from interest-bearing reserve funds," he said. "Either way, it is yet another cost the state is passing on to districts and local taxpayers."

A recent poll indicates that 56 percent of school board members from districts across the state believe the best way to make up for the delayed aid payments is to use reserve funds.

About 18 percent said they would vote for districts to borrow money, while another 14 percent called for spending freezes.

Kremer added that 39 percent of districts in New York would not have enough in reserve to cover delayed payments.

Two-thirds of board members say the budget delay is impacting budgeting decisions for 2010-11.

"This delay is a double-whammy to schools," Kremer said. "Not only is it forcing them to scramble to find money to pay their bills today, but it is affecting their budgets for next year."

Many local schools had planned for delays in state aid payments this year. But the cuts proposed by Paterson in the 2010-11 state budget are forcing districts across the Adirondacks to plan for layoffs and program cutbacks.

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