This time of year the Skaneateles School District and village government are trusted with the task of coming up with a responsible and balanced budget.
While both boards make plenty of other important decisions throughout the year, fiscal management is one of the most important things they do, and thus it is deserving of close public scrutiny.
The board of education adopted its budget last week and will hold a public information session prior to the May 21 school board election which includes a referendum for the public approval of the budget.
The village is holding a public hearing on its tentative budget during its 7:30 p.m. meeting this Thursday, April 25.
Both the village and the school district face challenges in balancing their budgets. Due to the federal Affordable Care Act and other factors, costs for health care and employee pensions are rising. They also both lost a revenue source this year as Onondaga County now gives zero percent of sales tax revenue to town and village governments and only a small share to school districts.
Thanks to the federal Freedom of Information Act, budget documents must be made available to the general public.
As a courtesy to the public that must approve the budget every year, the school district sends out brochures with the basic information about the budget. A budget summary as well as the full line-item version of the budget is available on their website now for perusal: skanschools.org.
The village’s tentative budget, which is itemized with all revenues and appropriations, is also available online at villageofskaneateles.com/publications.
In the interest of government transparency, non-profit groups have established websites, such as findthedata.org, which have searchable databases of government employee salaries and other easy-to-digest information. While a Freedom of Information request may be required to get certain documents, a lot of information about government spending is available through a quick Google search.
Whether it’s through reading the coverage we print in the Skaneateles Press, or delving further into the budget documents, the time is now to educate yourself and voice concerns about these budgets.