Forestville holds hearing on ‘14-’15 school budget

FORESTVILLE – With the school elections coming up, Forestville Central School Board of Education had its budget hearing for anyone interested recently.

Superintendent Chuck Leichner offered the highlights of the proposed budget, along with a few extra details to the public.

“Budget season begins the day after budget vote, because it really is a year ’round process,” he began.

The proposed tax levy increased from 1.46 percent to 1.51 percent due to a hike in state aid. “I think it is important to mention this is the lowest tax levy increase for us in the last five years,” Leichner added, which can be a good and bad thing for the school.

Leichner went on to explain the confusing process of the New York State Property Tax Freeze and how it benefits the community.

“Because the Forestville School District has worked hard to stay within the confines of the tax cap legislation, all STAR eligible district residents will receive a reimbursement from NYS for the increase in this upcoming year’s school bill over what it was last year,” he said. “So the property owner would pay their entire bill and get the 1.51 percent increase back from NYS.”

The 2014-15 proposed budget total of $11,844,100 represents a 3.1 percent increase from last school year.

“The district was able to eliminate that gap as a result of an increase of $203,456 in what was received in state aid using an additional $75,331 in fund balance and $27,400 in other revenues throughout the budget,” Leichner said.

The district is working on physical upkeep to the school property, which amounts to $2,000,000. This capital project is being run by Sandberg Kessler Architect Steven Sandberg, and will make improvements to the parking areas, heating, and building repairs.

“Forestville’s NYS Aid Ratio will allow the expense of this project to be combined with the expense of previous projects and still see the amount of aid received annually to be more than the total debt payment for the life of the loans,” Leichner pressed.

There has been more than a 6 percent increase in the administration budget, which amounts to 44,000. The district wants to hire a part-time technology assistant.

“Mr. Murphy is a really busy guy,” Leichner said. “He has so many irons in the fire and this is a way to get him some help.”

The school is proposing to purchase one 65-passenger bus and one 29-passenger bus. The cost will be offset by trading two 65-passenger buses and one 20-passenger bus, which won’t exceed $105,000.

“It’s like bringing your car to the dealership; if it is on its last leg and you drag it to the dealership there isn’t much money you are going to get out of it, but if you keep up with it it pays off,” Leichner explained when stressing the importance of new buses.

Three school board members are running unopposed. Current members Rod Rodgers, President Sylvester Cleary, and Vice-President Carol Woodward will be on the ballot.

“It’s a real horse race, no one else is running, but they want to see who gets the most votes,” Leichner said.

The annual budget vote will take place between the hours of 1 to 8 p.m. on May 20 and will be held in the High School Auditorium Lobby.