F-M board adopts 2011-12 budget

The Fayetteville-Manlius Board of Education on April 11 adopted a $74,020,753 budget for 2011-12 that keeps spending flat compared to 2010-11 and yields a 1.78 percent tax levy increase.

The tax levy increase was reduced by 5.93 percent from initial calculations that called for a necessary 7.71 percent increase to balance the budget because of anticipated revenue losses from state, federal and county governments and increased operational costs, such as state mandated increases to employee pensions.

Administrators reduced the tax levy increase, or the amount of revenue raised through property taxes, through a number of cost-saving measures that included decreasing spending by $2.6 million and applying $1.7 million of the district's undesignated fund balance and $915,226 from the district's Federal Jobs funds.

Included in the $2.6 million spending reduction is the elimination of 14.5 staff positions (6.5 teacher aides/assistants, five teachers, two custodians, and one business office staff person) and reducing an after-school bus run from five days a week to four.

A public hearing on the budget is scheduled for May 9, and district residents will vote on the budget May 17.

"We did our best given the challenging economic times to strike a balance between the needs of our students and staff and the taxpayers of our district," said Superintendent Corliss Kaiser. "We feel this budget maintains the level of educational excellence our community expects - and our students deserve - while proposing a tax levy increase that is less than what has historically been proposed."

Although F-M is facing unprecedented revenue decreases in 2011-12, district officials worked hard to present one of the lowest tax levy increases in recent times. Only one budget approved by voters in the past five years (2009-10) had a lower tax levy increase than the 1.78 percent increase proposed for 2011-12, and that's because in 2009-10 the district was expecting a more than $1 million increase in state aid compared to the prior year.

Without changes in local assessments, the district projects that residents' corresponding 2011-12 property tax rates will also increase by an average of 1.78 percent.

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