Chenango County school districts set to vote on budgets

AFTON – Afton Central School District has a proposed 2014-15 budget, which will be put to vote. The voting will take place from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. on Tuesday, May 20 in the lobby. The proposed budget is $16,262,243, which is a 3.43 percent increase over this year’s budget. There is a 1.61 percent tax levy, compared to 1.99 percent for this year. This will result in $4,331,339 raised through the tax levy.

“It (the budget) keeps all the programs we have right now,” said Superintendent Elizabeth Briggs. “We kept it as tight as we could this year.”

Two notable purchases include one 47-passenger bus and one eight-person SUV for the purpose of transporting students. The total cost of both purchases is not to exceed $132,000.

Also to be voted on is a new member for the BOE for one five-year term. The nominated candidates are Vanessa Warren and Keith Ives, Sr. For more information, visit www.afton.stier.org.

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BAINBRIDGE – The Bainbridge Guilford Central School District will put its 2014-2015 budget to vote on May 20, giving residents in the B-G school district a chance to weigh in.

Voting will be held from noon to 9 p.m. at Bainbridge Town Hall and Guilford Town Hall. The proposed $17.5 million budget calls for a tax levy increase of 1.8 percent over the current year’s budget and reflects an increase of 4.99 percent in total expenditures.

District administrators are proposing to use the budget to create two new elementary teaching positions, one new math position (from part-time to full-time) and a new teacher for physical education. Moreover, plans are to grow the school’s new business manufacturing technology course and reinstate a varsity level tennis team and a number of junior varsity sports programs, including baseball, softball, girls’ volleyball, and wrestling.

In addition to the budget, the district put forth a proposition to finance three new school buses. Voters will decide whether the district will borrow $275,684 for purchase of two full-size propane powered buses and one smaller bus for specialized runs. The purchase may be reimbursed by the state up to 90 percent the total cost. Plus the district estimates cost savings of propane powered buses to top nearly $4,000 per year.

Two seats on the B-G Board of Education are also up for relection on May 20. Current board members Patrick McElligott and Jeanne Shields have submitted petitions and will appear on the ballot.

For additional information on the Bainbridge-Guilford proposed 2014-2015 budget, visit www.bgcsd.org.

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GILBERTSVILLE-MOUNT UPTON – The board of education at Gilbertsville-Mount Upton Central School District are bringing a zero percent budget-to-budget of $8,858,730 to the ballot for the 2014-2015 fiscal year.

The projected tax levy increase of just 0.98 percent is less than the state prescribed 2.04 percent calculated tax cap – due in part to a change in the district’s health insurance plan that will save the district over $350,000.

G-MU was able to decrease the use of fund balance and reserve funds in this budget by over $275,000 and will continue to take advantage of BOCES services that offer a cost savings to the district by generating BOCES expense driven aid such as utilizing the services of five itinerant teachers (shared) which could save the district approximately $200,000 in payroll expenses.

The governor and state legislators have been working to reduce or eliminate the state’s Gap Elimination Adjustment over the next couple years, which alone has cost the district over $2 million in state aid over the past four years.

The proposed budget of $8,858,730 less than building aid received ($876,536) results in a budget total of $7,982,194 for 2014-15 school year – the lowest district taxpayers have seen since 2008.



The G-MU budget vote will be held from noon to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, May 20, at the G-MU main lobby.

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GREENE – The Greene Central School District budget for the 2014-2015 school year is made up of three primary key components: 1) administrative; 2) program; and 3) capital. They are detailed as follows:

• Administrative – This component of the budget includes expenditures for the board of education, central administration, the business office, supervision of regular school, and benefits for all employees in this category. Also included here are BOCES administrative charges.

The administration category of the budget, which will see a 6.7 percent hike this year, reflects spending associated with district-wide management and supervision, and for each of the district’s schools. The budget increase results primarily from contractual salaries, fringe benefit costs, BOCES administrative charges and data processing charges.

• Program – This component includes instructional services, extra-curricular activities and interscholastic athletics, transportation and specialized instruction for special needs students. Benefits for these employees are also included.

The Program portion of the budget will see a modest increase of 2.5 percent over the current budget and is the largest of the three budget categories as it reflects spending for direct instructional services to children, “after-school” clubs, organizations and athletics, specialized instructional and related support services for specific groups of children, transportation, and fringe benefits. The budget increase is driven by contractual salary increases.

• Capital – This component reflects expenditures for operation & maintenance of district facilities, including salaries and benefits. Principal and interest payments on construction bonds.

Anticipation Notes (BANS) for bus purchases are also included.

The capital component of the budget reflects expenditures made to operate and maintain the district’s physical facilities, principal and interest payments on long-term capital projects, and bus purchases. The increase over the current budget for the capital component is reflected in a 7.6 percent increase.

Residents in the Greene Central School District will cast their ballot on Tuesday, May 20 from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. in the Auditorium lobby.

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MORRIS – On Tuesday, May 20, Morris Central School District residents will go to the polls to vote on a $9.471 million budget for the 2014-2015 school year.

The proposed budget will increase spending by 6.1 percent and, if approved, the tax levy increase by 1.95 percent.

Final tax rates will not be set until August; however, it appears likely that actual tax rates will increase by approximately 1.95 percent. Polls will open from noon to 8 p.m. at the school lobby. Voters will be selecting two seats on the board of education in addition to voting on the proposed budget.

Facing continued cost increases and decreases in State Aid, the board was able to create a balanced budget for next year and keep the tax levy at a 1.95 percent increase by reducing the initial budget by nearly $100,000. Cost savings were realized with the retirement of two veteran teachers, reduction in materials used throughout the district and supplies in transportation. Additionally, savings were seen in the bus garage heating costs as a result of the new heating system, and through new contracts that were written with phone, electrical and internet suppliers.

The board says it understands that the community values the quality education that the students of Morris receive and want to see that maintained. The board also recognizes that many constituents are struggling financially and that the taxpayers expect the board to remain fiscally conservative. With that in mind, the budgeting process focused on the needs of students and the expectations of the community. As a result, the proposed spending plan calls for a 1.95 percent tax levy increase which does not exceed the state’s tax levy cap.

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NEW BERLIN – The Unadilla Valley Central School District has a proposed 2014-15 budget of $21,037,359, which is an increase of 3.8 percent from this year (an increase of $769,392). The tax levy increase is 1.46 percent. The vote will take place from noon to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, May 20, in the district office lobby.

According to the UV budget newsletter, Superintendent Robert Mackey said, “In creating the budget, the Board of Education balanced two goals: making sure that student learning was the number one priority, and being fiscally responsible to the taxpayers.”

The budget will maintain the current staff and programming and includes three teaching positions. The increase in staff and increase in student enrollment have contributed to the proposed budget.

Said Mackey, “For 2014-15, we will need to add two special education teachers and a reading teacher to meet the growing needs of our students.”

Also on the ballot is a proposition to lease school buses. It states that UV will lease five school buses for five years at a maximum estimated total annual cost not to exceed $75,000 for each of the years, with the district paying the local share of the cost of the annual lease payment (estimated at $37,500) from the capital reserve fund.

Voters will also cast a ballot on the appropriation of an additional $4,000 per year for the New Berlin Library and $2,495 for the South New Berlin Free Library.

Three openings for BOE, that are three-year terms each, will also go to vote. The candidates are Richard Potter, Haywood Edwards III, Victoria Gregory and Kimberly Murray. For more information, visit www.uvstorm.org.

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NORWICH – The Norwich City School District is calling for a zero percent tax increase for the 2014-2015 school year.

The district’s proposed $38.89 million budget breaks the five-year trend of increasing the local tax levy an average of 1.26 percent each year. Despite this year’s zero percent increase, the district wishes to expand on academic programs which includes a reinstatement of elementary summer school. In addition, it proposes adding several new positions, including a speech therapist, secondary ELA teacher, middle school math teacher, music teacher, social worker (part-time), elementary math teacher, and technology teacher.

The district still faces a number of fiscal challenges, including the employee and teacher retirement costs, employee health insurance, and special education programs.

In addition, the school board has put forward a school bus proposition. Residents will vote on a decision to replace nine of the 60-passenger buses and two 30-passenger buses. Up front cost is an estimated $1.2 million pre trade-in allowance ($200,000 to be used from capital reserve and $998,661 from the bus bond). However, the purchase may be reimbursed up to 90 percent from the state. This will not have an added impact to the local tax levy.

Two school board seats carrying a three-year term are also up for grabs. Appearing on the ballot will be incumbent school board members George Carnrike and Thomas Morrone, and newcomer Tom Grady, Jr.

Polling locations will be at the St. Bartholomew Parish Center for residents in district 1, the Plymouth Fire House for residents in district 2, and the Preston Fire House for residents in district 3. For additional budget information, visit norwichcsd.org.

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OTSELIC – Residents in the Otselic Valley School District will be left to decide on a proposed $10.44 million budget for the 2014-2015 school year.

The budget pitched by the Otselic Valley School Board calls for a 1.52 percent year-to-year tax increase which remains well below the school’s permissable 4.96 percent increase.

In addition, voters will decide on a bus proposal to lease six new school buses. School officials are also contemplating a capital building project next year, which consists of improvements to the school parking lot and road infrastructure.

The increase over last year’s $9.3 million budget may seem significant, said Superintendent Richard Hughes, but that’s largely due to the capital project which is aided by New York State.

Otselic Valley continues to see the impact of state budget cuts resulting from the statewide gap elimination adjustment (GEA). However, the district did receive an increase of $143,190 of the $1.12 billion additional funding issued to schools across the state (though that figure represents only 2.6 percent the state’s investment – the lowest increase in the area in both actual dollars and percentage, according to Hughes).

Polling locations for the Otselic Valley School District are in the elementary school in Georgetown and the high school in South Otselic. For more information, visit ovcs.org.

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OXFORD – The Oxford Academy Central School District has announced the details of its 2014-2015 school budget. Although Oxford expenses increased by 6.13 percent – largely due to debt service incurred on the early completed capital project – taxpayers will able to maintain a zero percent increase in the tax levy without the use of reserves.

The Oxford Board of Education understood that in a recovering economy, no one wants to pay more in taxes, and a combination of factors contributed to allowing them to expand school programs while maintaining a zero percent increase in the levy. The increase in debt service is offset by a similar increase in state-funded building aid.

Employee bargaining units agreed to a less expensive insurance plan and past efficiencies in operation combined with an increase in state aid allowed the board to maintain programs without raising taxes. In the coming school year, the board plans on starting an expanded after-school program for students to get extra help from teaching staff, purchase much needed equipment for the music program, athletics and the maintenance department, and continue recently instituted programs such as advanced placement courses in the high school and providing transportation to student-athletes after practice.

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SHERBURNE – Sherburne-Earlville Central School District has a proposed 2014-15 budget of $31,387,341, which is a 4.88 percent increase from the 2013-14 budget (of $29,927,444). The allowable tax levy is 1.4 percent, totaling $6,844,279 (compared to a 1.9 percent for this year). The vote will take place from noon to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, May 20 in the elementary school lobby and high school auditorium.

There is also a proposed school vehicle purchase to replace five older vehicles. Five Chevrolet Tahoes with touchdown systems and radios are listed for a total of $212,562.50.

Transportation aid will reimburse the district for 90 percent of the cost, which will leave only $21,256.25 of cost to be paid by the school.

“Now that they're eight years old we need to do something,” said Todd Griffin, Assistant Superintendent of Business.

Also to be voted on are three board of education member openings. Those in the running include Julie Bigger, Michael Khoury, Susan Osbourne and Michael Ulrich. For more information visit www.secsd.org.

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