Silver Creek presents draft budget

SILVER CREEK – The Silver Creek Board of Education was ready to present its first draft budget at its meeting Wednesday.

Superintendent Daniel Ljiljanich explained it was important to the board to present a budget that was sustainable and responsible as well as fulfill its goals of maintaining programs for students. The proposed budget includes cutting one .5 music position and one .5 French teacher but does not compare to the 38.5 teacher and administration cuts the district made in the two previous budget years. He also added more is expected of teachers and administrators than ever before with the implementation of common core learning standards and APPR.

He went on to explain the district is facing its eighth year of reduced state aid, mandate relief has not been realized and costs outside the district’s control have increased.

He explained since the budget the board considered in January, it was able to cut $523,000. However, the 2013-14 proposed budget increased from last year to $20,477,618.

“The district relies on state aid for about two-thirds of its revenue with tax levy and reserves bridging the gap,” Ljiljanich explained.

Ljiljanich said the district is also hopeful of increased state aid, even more than the $203 million proposed by Gov. Cuomo since both the state senate and assembly have voted to increase general education aid more than the governor’s proposal. However, the board said it has not decided if it receives additional aid whether to offset the tax levy or its use of reserves.

The board implemented a 10-year reserve spending plan to use reserves responsibly. This year the board decided to use over $430,000 in reserves to offset the budget gap.

The proposed tax levy would increase $203,975 to $5,512,849. Ljiljanich explained this is a 3.7 percent increase, however the district is still under its tax levy limit, which after exclusions and carryover would be allowed to raise the levy 6.7 percent.

Business Administrator Cindy Mackowiak explained this increase will translate to a $0.63 increase in the full value tax rate, bringing the total full value tax rate to $17.92 per $1,000 assessed value.

In addition to voting on the budget on May 21, district resident will also be asked to vote whether to allow the district to use the $118,978 left in the vehicle reserve to purchase a bus. Another proposition will ask to create a new vehicle reserve for up to $850,000 to be drawn from the EBLAR reserve and the unappropriated fund balance. Ljiljanich explained neither has any tax impact as all money will be drawn from existing reserves and savings.

Budget Consultant Richard Hitzges who is assisting the district from BOCES said the transfer is a good investment because the district receives aid of about 75 cents on the dollar for transportation reserve purchases.

Resident Anna Frederickson asked why the district had so much money in the EBLAR reserve. Board Martha Howard explained the board was misinformed in the past that the reserve could be used to pay for employee benefits and pensions, however that is not what the reserve can be used for. Ljiljanich explained the comptroller saw many school districts in the same situation with inflated EBLAR reserves and little purpose and allowed districts to use the funds penalty free in the past few years of state education cuts.

There will also be two board of education seats on the ballot in May. Petitions for the positions are due to the district office by April 22.

The board will meet March 27 at 7 p.m. there will be no workshop but the district will host a guest speaker, Barbara Coloroso, author of “The Bullied, the Bully and the Bystander” at 6:30 p.m.