SPRINGVILLE—Budget discussions have begun at the Springville-Griffith Institute Board of Education table. Preliminary discussions included the goals for the 2017-18 budget and the challenges, laid out by Superintendent Kimberly Moritz.
Moritz highlighted nine goals for this budget season, including improving education while being fiscally responsible, investing in their resources and budgeting realistically. The tax cap expected to be “near or at” zero percent, declining revenue and annual contract increases were all identified as challenges for the S-GI district, this budget season.
Business Official Maureen Lee anticipates the budget for the 2017-18 year will be around $37,703,000 a reduction from last year’s $38 million budget. Of course, she pointed out, it’s early in the process and the numbers are subject to change.
With the expected tax cap staying near zero percent, the district cannot increase the tax levy – the tax amount paid by district residents – from the 2016-17 budget. Last year’s tax cap was 0.79 percent, the tax levy was $15,500,961. The district is also facing declining revenues, the Executive Budget Proposal shows a decrease of $89,351 from the 2016-17 budget. The decline in student enrollment has a negative impact on the district’s state aid, Lee said.
“I think our student enrollment will stabilize over the next 10 years,” Moritz said. “But it does have a negative impact on our revenues.”
With an estimated increase of $730,000 in certified salary increases, the 2017-18 budget will be affected by contractual agreements. Lee also pointed out that health insurance costs are also on the rise.
Perhaps the biggest budget challenge the district is facing this year is redistributing funds to the appropriate budget lines. This is Lee’s first budget season at S-GI, and while Moritz was superintendent during last year’s approval, she took over the position in the middle of the budget process. The duo examined last year’s budget and will be redistributing some of the funds to other budget lines.
“We are reviewing every single budget line and expenditures,” Moritz said. “We are running into lines that were under budgeted … and that has given us cause for concern.”
Lee explained that some lines would have a dramatic difference from 2016-17, but most of that will be due to redistributing.
“For example … it may be a zero effect at the bottom but we just redistributed it to the line it best fit,” Lee said. “This is the best tool I have … without this level of detail and without it being on the right line I can’t give it to you.”
Moritz said the district is just “trying to be honest,” and will be taking their time with the budget, to ensure the proper information is given to the board and the community.
She and Kathryn Werner – who was officially appointed as director of special education at the meeting – have been doing research on providing special education services in the district as opposed to contracting them through BOCES.
“We analyzed just a special needs class at BOCES and the cost savings at bringing home seven students, we estimate at $184,000 annually,” Moritz said.
Moritz said the district will work to be more efficient, and that can include bringing some services back to S-GI. She noted that nothing would be done if it’s not in the best interest of the students or their family.
There will be $612,000 reduction in aid, Lee said, due to a serial bond the district paid off in 2015-16. The aid is a “give and take,” Lee said, and with the district approving a new capital project they will recoup that state aid in another year.
Budget discussions will continue through the next few meetings. The public will vote on the budget May 16. The board will next meet March 13 at the Colden Elementary School, at 7 p.m.