North Syracuse BOE approves budget; taxpayers face 5.33 percent increase

— The North Syracuse Central School District Board of Education voted to approve the $144,716,279 2013-14 budget for presentation to the public on May 21. The budget calls for a 5.33 percent tax increase, which requires a supermajority vote for approval.

According to the presentation given Monday, April 22, the district’s fund balance represents 1.9 percent of its budget, and its reserves represent 1.3 percent. In other districts in the Onondaga-Cortland-Madison BOCES system, the fund balance is an average of 5 percent of their budgets, while the reserves make up 12.8 percent. Moody’s credit rating firm has given the district a poor rating. North Syracuse also spends less per student than 21 of the 23 districts in its BOCES system.

Meanwhile, costs for the district have gone up by 4.3 percent since 2012-13. The largest increase is in benefits for employees (the state’s Teacher and Employee Retirement Systems), which climbed by 11.1 percent since last year.

At the same time, overall revenues declined. Though the district saw a 4.5 percent increase in general aid, building aid remained went down 12.2 percent, and sales tax revenue, rents, interest and the fund balance all went down.

“The burden of funding schools has shifted from the state and federal government to the local school taxpayer,” the presentation said.

All of these factors combined have forced the district to request a 5.33 percent tax increase, or $4,047,682 over last year district-wide. That means taxpayers will have to pay an additional $117 per $100,000 of assessed value.

Over the last five years, the district as eliminated more than 200 positions. This year’s budget calls for the district to do away with 14.5 more, including:

 One building administrator position at Gillette Road Middle School

 Part-time director of music and art

 Seven elementary positions at various locations

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