Baldwinsville School District cuts spending, tax levy rises

Baldwinsville Central School District officials have approved a $92,679,249 budget for the 2011-12, which cuts spending by $990,263.

Despite the decrease, the tax levy (amount to be raised through property taxes) will increase by 1.8 percent (from $47,822,714 in 2010-11 to $48,683, 523 in 2011-12) should voters approve the budget. This is due in the most part to reductions in state aid, increases in costs and the economic condition of the state and nation.

According to James Rodems, assistant superintendent for management services at Baldwinsville, major components of the proposed budget are salaries and benefits, especially health insurance and retirement costs. He said staffing needs were "closely examined" while maintaining a commitment to quality education programs within the district. Overall, there will be six layoffs in addition to 18 positions left vacant due to retirements.

"These unfilled positions are not necessary due to student population decreases," Rodems said.

He added the budget uses reserves and fund balance to reduce the budget impact on taxpayers.

"We will be using $1,500,000 in designated fund balance, plus $4,864,790 in reserves - the bulk of the reserves are coming from the Tax Certiorari Reserve and is the balance from the monies set aside to pay for a possible settlement with Anheuser Busch. We are returning this to the taxpayers by including this in our revenues for 2011-12," Rodems said. "We will also be using $1.2 million in an accrued liability for retiree health insurance."

While the exact tax rate will not be set until August, it is estimated the 2011-12 tax rate would be $23.25 should the budget be approved. This means a home assessed at $100,000 would pay $2,325 in school taxes, which is $41 more than last year.

Officials knew it would be a tough year, and requested public input from the beginning to develop a budget that voters would approve.

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