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PO BOX F | 4238 State Highway 8
New Berlin, NY 13411
P: 607.847.7500
F: 607.847.9194
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Proposed $18.6 million budget vote on May 19
Revenues dropping 15 percent; budget maintains all programs, includes money for teacher development

On Tuesday, May 19, Unadilla Valley Central School District residents will vote on a proposed $18.6 million budget for the 2015-16 school year. This budget, which represents a spending decrease of $2.4 million or 11.55 percent, will result in a tax levy increase of 0.81 percent, an increase that falls below the district’s legal limit as defined by New York’s tax levy cap legislation.

Residents will also vote on a $12.8 million capital improvement project proposal that will not impact school taxes, and the leasing of three new school buses. Voters will additionally elect three school board members.

Why are taxes increasing if spending is decreasing?
The proposed budget is decreasing because the district’s largest source of revenue – state aid – is decreasing. In the 2015-16 state budget that was passed in April, the district received a 4.15 percent increase in basic aid from 2014-15, but its overall aid, which includes building aid, is going down 15.63 percent.

This is a result of the district making its last bond payment of $2,789,663 in 2014-15 on the capital project that included the construction of the current school building. To finance the building project in 2002, the district took out a $30 million loan and paid it off in subsequent years. State building aid paid for 90 percent of the loan, with the remaining cost being covered by district reserves. Because the loan was paid off in the 2014-15 school year, the district did not receive the same amount of net aid for 2015-16.

When a source of revenue decreases, districts have few options to make up for that loss. These options include reducing programs or staff, using fund balance or increasing taxes. With an eye on preserving program opportunities for students and maintaining adequate fund balance for long-term stability, district officials are proposing a 0.81 percent tax levy increase, which is lower than the district’s maximum allowable tax levy limit of 4.93 percent.

Budget Development
While developing the budget, district leaders focused on keeping the tax levy under the district’s tax levy limit, maintaining the ability for students to earn an associate’s degree in high school, and reducing the district’s reliance on reserves.

The proposed budget uses $250,572 less in reserves than the current budget.
“We are ahead of our long-range plan to reduce our reliance on reserve funds,” said Superintendent Robert Mackey. “That was made possible by trying to control our expenses and a commitment to using our state aid.”

There are no program or staff cuts in the proposed budget.

The only notable addition includes more funding for teacher development.

“When we created the budget, we wanted to improve our programs for kids without adding staff,” Mackey said. “We’ve made a commitment to enhance professional development opportunities for teachers, so we can continue to improve student learning over the long term.”

On May 19, voters will also decide on a school bus leasing proposition, and a $12.8 million capital improvement project that will not impact school taxes.

The budget vote is scheduled for Tuesday, May 19, from noon to 8 p.m. in the district office lobby at 4238 State Highway 8, in New Berlin.
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