JAMESTOWN – The Jamestown School District won’t be facing any layoffs and residents won’t see a tax increase in the 2017-18 school budget.
That was the message Wednesday night from District Finance Director Vern Connors, who delivered a preliminary budget presentation to the school board during its meeting at Ring School. He said there are still some questions that need to be resolved, but at the very least, next year’s budget will not include any increase to the tax levy, nor will it involve any staff cuts.
Connors also said some issues that remain up in the air is the final amount of state aid the district will likely receive from Albany, along with how the district will deal with the disposition of its Warehouse on Crescent Street. The warehouse has been deemed an “excess” that is no longer useful to the district and depending on how the district disposes of the property, it could cost $500,000 next school year – although that money would come from the school’s fund balance, if it is needed at all.
The preliminary budget has an increase in spending of $4.7 million over the current year’s $79.18 million spending plan. However, much of that increase will be offset by state aid and other anticipated revenue streams. As a result, the actual increase the district will have to deal with will be about $1.8 million, with most of that amount being covered by an increase in state aid.
More details will be discussed during the March 28 board work session, but School Board President Paul Abbott says it was a good start to the budget process.
“Compared to other years I’m encouraged,” Abbott said. “If things stay as they seem to be, and it looks like there is even some potential for more assistance with a couple of programs, then hopefully this could be one of our better years for the budget. We’re not looking at any staff cuts, which is something that we’ve unfortunately had to experience a lot in the past few years, and this is coupled with another year of no tax increase, which we have understood the taxpayers are already pushed to near their limit. So we’ve tried to be very conservative in our budgets and we continue to follow that path.”
Between 2008 and 2012, the district was forced to eliminate 100 staff positions due to various financial challenges, and between 2013 and 15, another 26 positions were cut.
In addition to looking at specific details of the budget later this month on March 28, the district also must wait until the state finalizes its budget before it has a clear indication on how much state aid it will receive. The state budget is due by April 1.
BOARD TO MEET AGAIN THURSDAY NIGHT
A Special Meeting of the Jamestown Board of Education will take place on Thursday at 6 p.m.
The closed-door meeting will involve the board considering which consulting firm it would like to enter into a contract with, in regard to assisting with finding a new school superintendent.
Previous superintendent Tim Mains left last month for a job on the other side of the state and the board has hired Sylvia Root as an interim superintendent.