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Liverpool proposes 2.31 tax increase in 2014-15

— In a very preliminary presentation, Liverpool Central School District Mark Potter gave the board of education some expectation of what the 2014-15 budget will look like.

According to Potter’s presentation, the total budget for next year is $138,641,389, up 2.11 percent from last year. With revenues down about $359,795 and the expected use of $2,500,000 in money from the district’s fund balance, Potter anticipates a tax increase of 2.3089 percent for next year.

But Potter stressed that these numbers are not final. He’s left some gaps as the district waits to hear the final numbers from the state budget, due April 1, as well as some of its own health insurance costs, which remain unknown.

“Starting in 2009, a number of economic factors started to have a major impact on the development of a budget and the management of a budget,” Potter said. “Since then, it’s been very difficult to forecast a budget.”

Therefore, this year’s budget process for Liverpool looks a little different than it has in the past. Instead of presenting a full preliminary budget at Monday’s meeting, Potter gave the board of education what he called a “snapshot” of where the district stood at this point in time. With the aid of a districtwide Budget Advisory Team, Potter created what looked like a traditional preliminary budget, but he cautioned the board and the audience that many factors remain unknown.

The biggest difference between this year’s budget and previous budgets is that the 2014-15 proposal includes a multi-year planning concept with general budget guidelines through the 2018-19 school year.

“We don’t want to have to repeat the same thing year after year,” Potter said. “We’ve got to have a strategy going forward.”

Those strategies include working within the 2 percent tax cap, adjusting for student needs and programming and utilizing advocacy techniques to work with Albany to improve the school funding situation statewide. Potter, like many school superintendents across the region, lamented the cost Gap Elimination Adjustment has wrought on the district; since the 2010-11 school year, Liverpool has lost $44,775,921.

“That’s money that should have been part of our state aid,” Potter said. “I can’t stress enough, when we talk about advocacy, that the Gap Elimination Adjustment be eliminated for school districts, because it’s absolutely unfair.”

Potter’s full budget presentation, as well as a link where residents can submit questions, is available at liverpool.k12.ny.us.

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