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District budget hearing set for today

— The Board of Education has presented a $94,992,417 proposed budget to residents of the Baldwinsville Central School District and, once again, payroll and benefits had the biggest impact.

“For 2013-14, the budget drivers were contracted payroll increases, health insurance and especially pension costs,” said James Rodem, assistant superintendent for management services.

Expenses for the Teachers Retirement System (for teachers and administrators) will rise from 11.83 percent to 16.25 percent during the 2013-14 budget year and the Employee Retirement System (for non-instructional payroll) will rise from 18.1 percent to 20.1 percent, according to Rodem.

“Since our payroll is around $49 million, every point is close to a $500,000 increase in pension expense,” Rodem said.

The district has a tax levy limit of 5.16 percent for the 2013-14 budget year, which is above the state’s mandated 2 percent tax cap, but allowable due to exceptions for increases in pension costs and capital expenses. Despite this exception, the district is only asking for a 2.9 percent increase in the levy rather than 5.16 and will instead use up to $6.9 million of reserves and fund balance as revenues if needed. If approved, the budget will result in a $66.20 increase for a home assessed at $100,000.

In addition to the budget, there are two propositions on the ballot.

Proposition Two proposes purchasing nine vehicles including four 65-passenger buses, two 30-passenger wheelchair buses, one 30-passenger bus and two suburban vehicles at a cost not to exceed $918,000.

“We will receive approximately 80 percent of the bus purchase cost reimbursed by state transportation aid,” Rodem said.

Voters will also be asked to vote on Proposition Three, a $500,000 building project to increase the bandwidth at Elden and Van Buren elementary schools to match the bandwidth of the district’s six other academic buildings.

“This is to improve the computer infrastructure at Elden and Van Buren elementary schools,” Rodem said. “The majority of this cost will be paid by state aid and the local share will be paid using our capital reserve should the voters approve.”

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