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March 7, 2013

CCS plans to stay under tax cap

Budget workshop for public input planned for March 13

Cooperstown Central School plans to keep the district’s tax levy below the state’s 2 percent tax cap. 

Superintendent C.J. Hebert is proposing a $17,110,386 spending plan for the 2013-14 school year. The plan calls for a 2.02 percent budget-to-budget increase and a tax levy increase of 2 percent. 

The school has a tax levy limit of $219,622, which means it could be increased by 2.05 percent before going above the cap threshold. 

Hebert is requesting a $338,308 budget-to-budget increase. However, he said expenses have increased by nearly $200,000. Employee retirement system costs are going up by $68,264, teacher retirement system costs are being raised by $239,094, and health insurance costs are increasing by $228,739. 

The gap elimination adjustment from the 2011-12 school year to the 2013-14 school year totals $2.8 million. The total actual and proposed tax levy increase for the same period is $568,310 — a difference of $2.2 million. 

The school’s combined wealth ratio has gone from 1.011 to 1.440 since the 2008-09 school year. According to Hebert, the district considered to be one and a half times more wealthy than other schools in the state. 

CCS has seen a big drop in transportation and BOCES aid. Since 2008, transportation aid has gone from 57.5 to 33.9 percent and BOCES aid has gone from 48 percent to 36 percent (the 36 percent BOCES aid is as low as it can get). 

Hebert said CCS has had success with resource sharing. The district shares a cafeteria manager with Milford Central School and a physical therapist with the Oneonta City School District.

Cooperstown is also participating in a transportation maintenance study that is in its early stages, according to Hebert. He said the study could possibly result in the consolidation of bus garages, a centralized location for maintenance along with other cost-saving measures. 

The Cooperstown Central School Board of Education will hold a budget workshop at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 13, in the middle/high school cafeteria. According to Hebert, the gathering will provide time for community members to weigh in on what programs they feel are essential in a time of financial crises, discussion on additional resource sharing opportunities and coming up with a focused plan on advocacy efforts - being heard in Albany. 

A second budget presentation will be held at 6:30 p.m. March 20. The annual budget hearing will be at 6:30 p.m. May 8. The budget vote will take place from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. May 21 in the auditorium.

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