Saranac Lake school district starts budget talks

Parent asks for full-time librarian in Bloomingdale

— Saranac Lake Central School Board members recently began taking a hard look at their 2012-13 spending plan under the new state-mandated tax levy cap and are faced with a $1.4 million revenue shortfall.

Assistant Superintendent for Business Dan Bower gave board members an updated budget preparation worksheet during their March 7 meeting, outlining the state’s allowable maximum tax levy increase with a simple majority vote of at least 50 percent. That number is $392,693, above the current tax levy of $18,295,387.

Voters can override any amount above that on May 15, but they would need a supermajority of at least 60 percent.

At this stage in the budget process, there is an estimated $26,556,386 in revenue and $28,394,257 in expenses for 2012-13, requiring a tax levy increase of $1,837,871. By subtracting the allowable tax levy increase — $392,693 — school officials are left with a $1,445,178 revenue shortfall.

The allowable increase represents a jump of 2.146-percent, which is determined using the state’s tax cap formula, which is based at 2-percent and then considers exemptions and other factors when determining the cap total.

The school has to find a combination of cuts and added revenue to make up that amount.

While School Board members did not discuss any cuts at their March 7 meeting, Bower offered a few ways the district can achieve $543,000 in savings:

•lower health insurance rates, $263,000;

•UPK mid-day transportation, $70,000;

•field trips, $20,000;

•music teacher retirement, $50,000;

•garage restructuring, $50,000;

•business office clerical reduction, $35,000;

•indoor track cut, $9,000;

•in-house projects, $30,000;

•and facilities subs, $16,000.

Bower also suggested using an additional $200,000 from the fund balance (revenue previously saved for emergency situations). If all his suggestions were adopted, that would still leave a shortfall of $702,178 for the School Board to cut.

Bloomingdale librarian

Vermontville resident Shir Filler made a plea to School Board members March 7 to reinstate a full-time librarian at the Bloomingdale Elementary School, where her child attends classes. Right now the school has a part-time librarian.

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