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School district calls for tax increase, staffing cuts in 2013-14 budget

— Due to cuts in state aid, increases in employee entitlement costs and a steady drop in enrollment, the Cazenovia Central School District’s preliminary 2013-14 budget includes a nearly 5 percent tax levy increase and the elimination of five or more staff positions in the middle and high schools.

The proposed tax levy would increase the tax rate on a home of $200,000 taxable value by about $198 per year. The district’s recommendations were based on the need to fill a $450,000 shortfall in the school district budget.

These details, plus an explanation and breakdown of budget specifics, were presented to the Cazenovia Board of Education during a public hearing on Monday, March 18, at which more than 60 community members were in attendance. Numerous residents spoke out fiercely against the proposed staffing cuts — particularly regarding one high school social studies teacher — many suggested or demanded cuts come from other budget aspects and some even suggested higher taxes than proposed in order to prevent the layoffs.

“We’ve been working on this [budget] for about three months. It’s not a pleasant task to pare this down but this is basically what we’re going forward with next month [for school board approval],” said Board of Education President Fritz Koennecke.

District administrators and board members have been preparing the new budget since January, with an initial projected budget deficit of $650,000. Recently tabulated savings in utilities costs, as well as three newly-announced staff retirements have lessened the budget gap to $460,000, Superintendent Bob Dubik told the board of education at its Feb. 25 meeting. This figure was reiterated by William Furlong, assistant superintendent for business and finance, at the board’s March 4 public budget meeting.

The current preliminary budget, proposed at the March 18 meeting, is a total $26,197,000 budget with a $510,410 (or 2 percent) increase in revenues but a $644,848 increase in expenditures.

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