In December, the Baldwinsville Central School District entered into an agreement with the Town of Lysander and Anheuser-Busch to end a dispute over the assessed value of the brewery. The district entered into this agreement to keep Anheuser-Busch as a thriving business in our community, to sustain the district's quality educational programs, and to avoid costly litigation. The three key terms of the agreement are as follows:
The brewery's assessment has been reduced from $96 million to $75 million;
A retroactive refund from the school district for the current tax year and the past four tax years for roughly $2.5 million was paid in full as of Dec. 31, 2010 without interest; and
The district will enter into "good faith" negotiations to discuss a Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) Agreement.
As I write this, there is not much information coming out of Albany regarding school district aid, but what I am hearing is bleak. As of the last week in December, our state aid runs showed a decrease of approximately $1.4 million in state aid for the 2010-11 school year. With the state running in a deficit, this amount may change before we close our books at the end of June 2011. We have frozen spending in some areas of our budget in anticipation of reduced state aid. With a new governor, I anticipate changes at the state level that will adversely affect the budgets of all public entities including school districts. Although we don't have any numbers from the state, the Board of Education will continue with the 2011-12 budget development process. We are required by law to have a budget developed and ready for public vote by May 17.
As you can imagine, it is very difficult for the district to create a budget without knowing exactly how much aid we will receive from the state. I want to assure you that district staff, administrators and the Board of Education will be carefully scrutinizing each area of the 2011-12 budget to determine how best to cut costs and increase efficiency. It has always been my belief that it is better to reduce a little in each area rather than concentrate on a few areas of the budget, in order to create a budget that allows the district to continue delivering quality instruction to our students and to provide them with the tools and services they need to be competitive nationally and internationally.