JAMESTOWN – The 2016-17 budget for the Jamestown School District will not have a tax levy increase and will not see any teacher layoffs.
That from Jamestown school superintendent Tim Mains, who joined district finance director Vern Connors Thursday night in presenting the preliminary numbers for next year’s school budget.
Mains said there were a couple of factors that allowed administration to bring forward a tentative budget that didn’t have a tax increase or call for layoffs.
“We certainly have some additional revenues from the state, which are helpful,” Mains said. “We also have some huge reductions in what we have to pay in retiree benefits. The very large amounts we had to pay dropped dramatically and that helped us a lot. And of course, all the cuts we’ve absorbed over the past few years, those savings carry forward.”
Total spending for the tentative budget is $79.14 million – a $1.45 million increase (1.9 percent) over the current year’s budget.
Much of the increase will be covered by additional state school aid, which will be at least $1.14 million more than the current year’s funding. But that amount could be more, depending on whether or not state lawmakers plan to increase education aid in the state budget, which is still being worked on in Albany.
The state spending plan is expected to be completed by April 1, giving Jamestown and other districts the final piece of information they’ll need before completing their spending plan.
One of the concerns brought forward by Mains and echoed by the school board is the low fund balance the district has maintained in recent years. That also caught the eye of the state comptroller, who cautioned that the district needs to restore its fund balance to relieve fiscal stress. As a result, Mains said he’s only proposing the use of $500,000 from the fund balance for next year’s budget.
“If you look at the past five years, we have slowly been decreasing the amount we pull from fund balance to apply to the next year’s budget. This year we are using the least amount that we’ve used in six our seven years. And we’re only proposing half a million dollars for next year. That’s designed to allow us to build the fund balance back up,” Mains explained.
Mains said he will present the budget’s impact on the districts recently completed 5-year Strategic Plan on March 29. An updated version of the budget, with final state aid totals, is also expected to be presented to the school board during its April 5 meeting.
The school board will likely finalize the budget by the end of April, with the budget voted scheduled to take place in Mid-May.