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Saranac Lake school district begins budget process

Saranac Lake Central School Assistant Superintendent for Business Dan Bower gives a budget presentation to the School Board Feb. 1 at the Petrova School library.

Saranac Lake Central School Assistant Superintendent for Business Dan Bower gives a budget presentation to the School Board Feb. 1 at the Petrova School library. Photo by Andy Flynn.

— The Saranac Lake Central School Board got a taste of the 2012-13 budgetary process Wednesday, Feb. 1, as Assistant Superintendent for Business Dan Bower revealed a spending plan scenario held for the first time under the state’s new 2 percent tax cap.

If the budget was adopted today, there would be a $1.585 million budget gap to make up, with an estimated $26,853,128 in revenue and $28,438,257 in expenses. See the budget presentation.

“The good news is we don’t have to adopt a budget tonight,” Bower said to board members at their regular meeting in the Petrova library.

Much of the expense increases would come from the health insurance and retirement system, and the spending increase is an estimated $1,283,355, or .47 percent, from the current budget.

State aid is set to decrease for Saranac Lake to an estimated $7,235,999, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed state budget, down $373,116 or 4.9 percent from the current year’s $7,609,115. Those are the numbers Bower is using, since it is unknown whether they will be changed through the state budget process.

“There’s not a lot of reason to be optimistic,” Bower said.

Bower and Superintendent Gerald Goldman will be spending time with administrators, School Board members and the Budget Advisory Committee over the next couple of months in order to shape a budget they can take to the voters on Tuesday, May 15. They will communicate with state legislators to see what’s happening in Albany. And they will monitor the budget to maximize the fund balance, which is “leftover” money in the district’s coffers that is set aside for emergencies and to use for “revenues” during the budget process.

While the fund balance currently exceeds $870,000, according to Bower, he feels safe using $600,000 right now as a revenue source in the 2012-13 spending plan.

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