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Bleak budget outlook for Skaneateles school district

Teacher and staff layoffs possible next year

— The 2012-13 financial outlook for the Skaneateles Central School District is bleak and uncertain due to insurance and benefit increases, loss of state and federal aid and the new state tax levy cap.

This was the message given to the board of education at its Dec. 6 work session by Dale Bates, assistant superintendent for business and finance.

“We’ve already taken out [of the budget] almost everything we can that doesn’t affect instructional programs, so come next year there will be some hard choices to make,” Bates said.

Bates’ presentation to the board was on the tentative assumptions for the 2012-13 district budget in order to maintain current programs.

The tentative budget for next year is $29,629,197, an increase over last year of $608,440 or 2.1 percent.

The budget numbers are difficult to estimate, however, because so much of the content is unknown, Bates said.

There are three expired labor contracts and a transportation contract extension not yet completed, and potential increases in health insurance and employee benefit costs. The district is scheduled to lose more than $300,000 in federal jobs money and the projected 4 percent increase in state aid is “basically off the table” because of the state’s huge budget shortfalls, although that will be decided soon by the state legislature, Bates said. The new state tax levy cap and continued decreases in county sales tax also will limit the revenues coming in to the district.

In order to maintain the current budget, the school district needs a tentative revenue increase of $608,440, Bates said. The 2 percent tax levy cap would allow the school to raise $423,000, but the district’s recent use of $425,000 from its reserves to reduce the tax levy last year basically negates the revenue.

However, because of the uncertainty of the numbers, that needed revenue increase could be more or less than currently projected, he said.

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