Ti CSD budget process comes over the hill

— Something was different about the process of putting together the 2014-15 adopted budget for the Ticonderoga Central School District.

Different in a good way.

“This year has been entirely different from the past three or four years,” Superintendent John McDonald said. “This year we had a small gap between the cap and spending plan.”

The “cap,” a nickname given to the New York State tax levy cap formula, allowed the district to increase its tax base by 1.38 percent, from $10,800,159 in 2013-14 to a proposed $10,949,271 in 2014-15.

McDonald said there were not as many difficult choices to make in order to meet the tax levy cap with the budget, adopted by the school board April 24, but it still called for extra effort.

“We are going to be stretching our staff,” he said. “We have had big increases in retirement and health care.”

However, McDonald said the district will not have to borrow money in order to end the school year, something they have done in the previous two.

The board did authorize the use of $272,387 in fund balance, up 94 percent from a usage of $140,121 in 2013-14.

“We are still below the four percent that is allowable to use under state law,” McDonald said. “Overall, I believe this budget shows that we are getting healthier. When we renegotiated our contracts we knew that we would be in good shape.”

The overall spending plan was adopted at a price tag of $19,296,079 for the 2014-15 school year, up 3.69 percent from $18,608,671 in 2013-14. The district received a 6 percent increase in state aid funding partly due to the release of Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA) funds by the state.

McDonald said that just over $200,000 of the $399,409 increase in funding was from the GEA.

“If the GEA is going to keep getting smaller then that would be a good thing for us,” McDonald said.

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