Budget Includes 16 Position Cuts and 1.5 Percent Tax Increase
JAMESTOWN – The Jamestown School Board has approved a $77.6M budget that cuts 16 positions and includes a 1.5 percent tax increase.
The board voted on the spending plan Tuesday night after Superintendent Tim Mains presented some final budget adjustments, which include a $103,000 reduction in professional development to ensure that no staff members would be laid off for the 2015-16 school year. As a result, all position cuts will be made through attrition.
The final vote was 6 to 0, with board member Tom Pope absent from the meeting.
Mains said that while he was not pleased that the district had to cut more positions during a time when the school is asking to do more for its students, he did say that he was pleased with the budget process and the final result.
“Not everyone is happy with every piece,” Mains said. “But I think collectively, people recognize that this is the package that will work and it has the key elements that are important to the board, based on the input they received from the community.”
Jamestown Teachers Association President Chris Reilly – who earlier the budget process urged the board to do its best to preserve as many positions as possible – said that he can also accept the budget, considering there will be no layoffs…
Yes, we’re happy that the four JTA members will be coming back,” Reilly told WRFA following the vote. “It is unfortunate that we’re losing 16 positions, because the loss of those positions has an impact on everybody that remains – class sizes become larger, services that we can offer become non existent – so it still has an impact. It’s not a perfect budget but I think, as many of the board members said, it’s the best that we could do in these times.”
Each board member also weighed in on the process prior to the vote, including Shelly Leathers, who is the chair of the board’s finance committee. Leathers said she’d like to see the budget process start sooner and following the meeting, she expanded on what she meant.
“I think we’re actually going to start crafting the budget in August,” Leathers said. “I think that’s when it begins. I think we meed to start looking at the things we were not satisfied for this year and start looking at how to improve them next year, and to really monitor or fiscal situation every month, so that it’s not a surprise come April.”
The budget does call for a 1.5 percent tax increase, which is the first increase proposed by the district in five years. It will bring in an additional $220,000 – which school officials say will help to pay for four positions.
Board president Joe DiMaio said he understands taxpayers never want to see an increase, no matter how small, but he also that he’s hoping property owners understand why the increase put in place…
“We need your help,” DiMaio said when asked what he will tell taxpayers in regard to the increase. “We need to do this because included in [a budget without an increase] would be some things we don’t want to happen. The only thing that the state has done to try and get (taxpayers) on board is any tax increase – because we have kept it way below the cap – they will get a check for that amount of money that their taxes will go up, so they will get it back.”
According to school officials, the increase means the tax payment on a $100,000 home in the city will go up by $28.50. For a $50,000 home, it would be $14.25.
The school will hold a public hearing for the budget on May 12 at 7 p.m. at Percell Middle School. The public will then vote on the spending plan – along with two board seats – during the budget vote and board election on May 19.