Elizabethtown-Lewis set to tackle $279,342 gap

— It could be worse.

Elizabethtown-Lewis Central School Superintendent Gail Else said that if it were not for serious decisions made in previous years, the district could be looking at much more than $279,342 in savings that they have to make in order to be in compliance with the state tax cap.

“We’re good,” Else said at an ELCS budget hearing March 14. “We’re in good shape because the board has made some tough decisions in the past, and that has put us in a better position then other schools around us.”

According to the state tax cap formula, which starts at 2 percent and takes certain factors into consideration, ELCS has a tax cap of 2.54 percent, allowing them to increase their tax levy from the 2011-12 amount of $3,253,746 to no higher than $3,336,450 in 2012-13.

Based on preliminary budget estimates, the district is expecting $7,520,738 in expenses.

Revenues, however, can only reach an estimated total of $7,241,396, which includes an infusion of $400,000 from the fund balance.

If the revenues go over that amount, it would put the tax levy over the cap limit, which would mean voters would have to support the spending plan with a 60 percent supermajority.

“These are broad estimates right now, and it should not be a huge struggle to get to where we need to be,” Else said. “We will not have a reduction in staff. We think that it will be a piece here and a piece there, across the board.”

Else said that issues like special education costs, decreasing enrollment and the need for a new bus all factor into the budget process.

Else said that they are very hopeful that the state will provide their spending plan on or before April 1.

“Everything that I am hearing is that the state will have an on-time budget, and that is huge for us,” she said.

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