UV’s 2021-22 budget approved by voters

Voters in the Unadilla Valley CSD approved a $23.4 million budget Tuesday, May 18 by a vote of 137 to 46. The spending plan keeps the district within its tax levy limit.

“We want to thank voters for turning out tonight. This budget was designed to move Unadilla Valley forward out of the COVID-19 pandemic and renew our focus on academic achievement and social-emotional learning in a fiscally responsible way,” Superintendent Robert Mackey said.

A tax levy limit, while sometimes referred to as a “2 percent tax cap,” is set by the state and will often be higher or lower than 2 percent based on the individual circumstances of each district. In UV’s case, the district is staying within the tax levy limit, which for the 2021-22 school year is 2.2 percent.

While the budget for next year shows a 5.7 percent increase in expenditures, additional state aid and operational efficiencies are keeping the tax levy increase within the levy limit. Due to the most recent capital project, UV is receiving state aid to offset an increase in debt service, which is reflected in the overall proposed budget increase.

State-mandated teacher and employee retirement contributions will account for much of the difference in next year’s budget over the current fiscal year. The fiscal plan for next year reduces day-to-day operating costs, while maintaining existing instructional programming. Under the budget proposal, this will largely be accomplished by not filling some recent staff retirements.

“We want to thank voters for turning out tonight. This budget was designed to move Unadilla Valley forward out of the COVID-19 pandemic and renew our focus on academic achievement and social-emotional learning in a fiscally responsible way,” Superintendent Robert Mackey said.

The budget includes three new licensed teaching assistant positions to assist with increased student learning needs caused by the pandemic.

While the budget under development will guide the district through the 2021-22 school year, it was developed using a multi-year approach with the consultation of a financial planning firm that specializes in school budgets. One focus of the district’s long-term financial planning is to prevent large swings in the tax levy limit down the road.

Included in the budget is a $100,000 capital outlay project to fund the continued removal of aging temperature controllers and the installation of more efficient controllers, particularly in the secondary school wing.

A bus proposition that would authorize the lease of four school buses at an annual cost not to exceed $94,000 was also approved by a vote of 150 to 33. The term of the lease is five years.

New York State Law allows for public libraries to use the occasion of school budget votes to help fund their operations independently from school districts. The New Berlin Public Library requested a proposition be on the ballot May 18 to increase the library tax by $5,000 and the proposition passed by a vote of 69 to 31.

In addition to the budget proposal, voters re-elected two members of the Board of Education. Mark Davis and Carrie Meade ran unopposed. Davis received 159 votes and Meade received 155 votes.