Superintendent Dr. Mark Potter unveiled the first draft of the Liverpool Central School District’s 2018-2019 budget at the Feb. 26 meeting of the Board of Education. While Potter stressed that the numbers are preliminary, the proposal shows an increase of 3.43 percent over the current school year’s budget.
“We live in three budgets: the budget we just left, the budget we’re in and the budget we’re going into,” Potter said of the district’s five-year budget planning model.
Under the 2018-19 draft budget, total appropriations would be $158,657,896, nearly $5 million more than the 2017-18 total of $153,665,412.
Potter noted that salaries and employee benefits make up 80 percent of the district’s appropriations, as school districts are a “people business.” Those items break down as follows in the preliminary budget:
• Instructional salaries: $57,638,911 (37 percent of the budget)
•Non-instructional salaries: $17,836,941 (12 percent)
• Employee benefits: $49,192,695 (31 percent)
“We are as good as our people are. They are our no. 1 resource,” said Board of Education member Neil Fitzpatrick. “These conversations take on a very territorial, personal aspect, and we have some perhaps difficult decisions to make ahead.”
Potter also highlighted major transportation purchases in the budget proposal that are eligible for state transportation aid:
• 7 large school buses at $130,183.51 each for a total of $911,284.57
• 1 small school bus with a wheelchair lift and air conditioning $70,577.98
• 1 small school bus with air conditioning $61,519.24
The transportation department also hopes to purchase two 1-ton pickup trucks with plows for a total of $112,000.76 and one large mower for $107,458.10.
As of Feb. 26, the district calculated total revenue at $154,572,149, leaving a gap of $3,985,747 to cover the total appropriations. This is down from a $7,715,834 gap from calculations made Jan. 4.
Potter said the budget had been calculated with a 2 percent tax levy increase. The district would collect $84,486,274 in taxes for the 2018-19 school year, compared to $82,829,680 this year.
The tax cap is based on the consumer price index, debt service, payments in lieu of taxes (PILOTs) and growth of property values in the district. According to the state, there has been no such growth in Liverpool.
“I’ve never seen this, and most people have never seen zero growth [in a district],” Potter said. “The state tells us that there isn’t any increase in value in Liverpool that would provide us with a number.
Under the draft proposal, Liverpool would use $100,000 of its fund balance toward appropriations.
Potter criticized New York state’s approach to school funding. The state budget is due April 1, and the state faces a deficit of $4 billion.
“The sad story is the school district funding formula should be able to predict their portions as well, but they don’t follow it,” he said.
Over the next few weeks, the school board will meet with administrators to finalize the budget. The board will vote on the budget at its April 16 meeting.
District residents head to the polls May 15 to vote on the budget and select three candidates for school board. Voting will take place from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the Liverpool High School main gymnasium.
Ashley M. Casey is a reporter for The Baldwinsville Messenger and The Eagle Star-Review. She graduated from Le Moyne College in 2012 and previously worked for the Scotsman Press.
Sep 19, 2018
Sep 19, 2018