SHERMAN - Sherman Central School District Board of Education members wrestled Monday, March 24 with the possibility that it may have to approve a tax levy of more than 4 percent plus use a substantial portion of its fund balance in order to balance the budget for the coming year.
District business executive Kimberly Oehlbeck present preliminary figures for the 2014-15 budget to the board at its regular meeting. The board still has one regular meeting scheduled before the budget must be approved and submitted to the state.
The current budget projects an increase of $381,675 in total expenditures for the coming year, while total revenue is expected to increase $173,924, Oehlbeck told the board. This leaves a shortfall of $227,751 which must be made up through a combination of taxes and the fund balance.
Photo by David Prenatt
Members of Sherman Central School District’s boys varsity basketball team where honored at the regular board of education meeting Monday. The team advanced to the state finals at Glen Falls.
Currently, Sherman residents pay taxes of $18.21 per $1,000 of property value. Taxes would have to increase by 9.75 percent to make up the whole difference, Oehlbeck said.
Under the state tax formula, however, the maximum that the district can levy this year is 4.12 percent. This would leave $129,000 that would need to be taken from the fund balance.
The district currently has a fund balance of $310,000. "A lot of people call it a rainy-day fund well it's pouring now," said Sherman superintendent Kaine Kelly.
Last year, Sherman could have raised taxes by nearly 8 percent, but only levied a 4 percent increase. Changes in the state formula, however, have effectively eliminated any carryover from year to year.
The state formula leaves school districts with the dilemma of raising taxes by the maximum possible amount each year, or losing the possible revenue from those taxes in future years, Kelly said.
"The fact of the matter is that the law is written poorly. Any taxes we don't levy won't be factored into next year's formula," Kelly said. "We've had higher levy limits in the past and have not gone up to them."
Kelly noted that the district still has time to work with the budget figures. Additionally, he said he hopes the state legislature may allocate more funds for education.
"We're a little ahead of the game. We still have next meeting to decide. Between this budget and the next budget we have some work to do to cut costs some more," Kelly said. "Whatever you decide, Kim and I will get the budget to that level."
In other business, the board expressed its appreciation to Sherman's varsity boys' basketball team, who advanced this year to the state finals. "I wanted to thank you for the positive way in which you represented our school, your families and our community in your travels," Kelly told the team. "We appreciate all that you did and the way you came together as a group of young men and kept your eye on the goal."
The board also approved a request from the Sherman Hose Company for access to the district's fitness center for its active members during normal hours of operation. "That group donates a lot of time to our community," Kelly said.
Kelly also reported on a recent in-service day for the district's teachers and staff that focused on Common Core modules. He commended them for their response to the changes in curriculum. "In the last couple of years, everything that has come down to us has put our staff under great pressure," he said. "They have responded incredibly well. We're in good shape educationally."