As we begin the budget process for 2013-2014, I am saddened to say that once again we have received a minimal state aid increase. The overall net increase in state aid for Phoenix CSD is $228,670. Our total budget for the 2012-2013 school year is $41,261,399. As you can see, our increase in state aid is a drop in the bucket compared to our overall school budget.
I am somewhat amazed at the salesmanship of Governor Cuomo! In his television ads, the Governor proclaims he has increased state aid. His increase in state aid does not offset our increases in retirement and health costs for our employees. Governor Cuomo continues to use a gap elimination adjustment whereby he gives money to the district and then takes it away to help offset his budget. This year’s gap elimination adjustment (GEA) amounts to $2.56 million for Phoenix CSD. He claims there are no new taxes for New Yorkers. However, we will need to increase our school taxes for our residents in order to maintain a sound instructional program. We are very aware that Phoenix has the second highest tax rate in Oswego County. I want you to be aware that the Governor’s television ads do not tell the whole truth about the state of finances for our district!
The realistic picture for Phoenix CSD is that we are facing a $1.6 million gap. Over the last two years we have been dealt a heavy blow with a $2.4 and a $3.1 million gap. We have trimmed our staff and departments. We have been extremely frugal with our budget allotments. There is no fat in our budget!
How will we fill our gap? We can reduce expenses. This translates into reducing programs and staff. We can increase school taxes. For every 1% increase in the tax levy, we collect an extra $161,318. We can also allocate some of the retirement reserve towards the increase in the Employee Retirement Service (our non-instructional employees). One way or another, we need to fill or reduce the gap.
In March, we have two Board of Education meetings devoted to closing our $1.6 million budget gap. The meetings are on Monday, March 11th and Monday, March 25th. Both meetings are in the JCB library and begin at 7:00PM.
Please come out and be informed about the Phoenix CSD budget.
Please contact your legislators in Albany.
Senator Patty Ritchie (48th Senate District) Ritchie@nysenate.gov
Senator John A. DeFrancisco (50th Senate District) firstname.lastname@example.org
Assemblyman William Barclay (Assembly District 120) Fulton Office phone: (315) 598-5185
If the powers in charge of our state government can propose helping to finance gambling casinos in New York State, they can certainly find ways to help our schools maintain a good instructional program!