Fredonia school board hears draft budget

Although there are still several unknowns, the Fre-donia Board of Education recently heard another up-date on the budget from Business Administrator John Forbes.

Forbes said the district still does not know the final figures for employee benefits, central business office costs, the tax cap calculation, BOCES costs, assessed valuation, equalization rates or fund balance.

Although it has been able to reduce more than $1.2 million from its original budget proposal of $30,850,576, the district is still facing increased costs.

Forbes said salaries and benefits will increase 4.65 percent, teachers retirement system contribution in-creased 13.6 percent, and the employee retirement system contribution in-creased 14.2 percent.

Other benefits also increased including unemployment insurance by 73.9 percent and long-term disability insurance by 20 percent for a total increase of $465,263. There were also equipment and BOCES increases noted.

Forbes pointed out the district has also lost $8 million in aid over the last four years.

According to the calculations presented at the meeting, the district has a tax levy limit of 3.36 percent, which equates to just over $15 million. As the budget stood, the budget would need to be cut or fund balance would have to be used to close a gap of $1.2 million.

Superintendent Paul DiFonzo reported on a meeting he had with State Senator Catharine Young and Assemblyman Andy Goodell. He explained how reduction of state aid, gap elimination adjustment, unfunded mandates and the tax cap has hurt districts like Fredonia.

“They know we are facing a shortfall and they know programming is in our sights (to cut). What they can do is reinstate funding,” DiFonzo said.

He suggested legislation for a regional high school, repealing the Triborough amendment, reducing special education mandates and foundation aid revisions as ways to help the district. He said the legislators were receptive but they had heard it all before.

The next board of education meeting will be held Tuesday, March 26.

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