It was a quiet public hearing for Dolgeville Central School officials Tuesday evening, as only a handful of residents attended the session on the district’s proposed $18,746,133 budget for the 2013 – 2014 school year.
Two audience members — former board of education member and retired teacher Arnold Timian and town of Stratford resident Alicia Rice — asked questions about the district’s looming capital project and its decision to provide preschool students who live within the district door-to-door transportation to and from their preschool program.
Addressing the budget, Superintendent Christine Reynolds said the proposal represents a $568,129 increase in general fund spending and carries a two percent increase in the tax levy. The projected tax rate per $1,000 of assessed valuation is projected to be $14.04.
Business Administrator John McKeown said the administrative portion of the budget, which includes expenses related to the superintendent’s office, business office, BOCES administrative charges, attorneys, training, the board of education and the district clerk’s office, would increase by $44,629, or 2.6 percent, from the current year.
He said the program portion of the budget, which includes expenses related to teacher salaries, educational supplies, special education costs, health and guidance services and interscholastic athletics, would increase by $361,272, or 2.63 percent.
The capital portion of the budget, which includes operations and maintenance expenses, utilities and principal and interest costs related to the district’s borrowing for capital improvement projects, would increase by $162,228, or 5.87 percent, he said.
“Employee benefits, particularly increases in health insurance premiums and contributions to the employee retirement system and the teacher retirement system, are the major drivers for the projected increase in spending,” said McKeown.
He said the district anticipates a rate increase of between six and seven percent for its health insurance premiums and up to 40 percent for its retirement contributions.
“There is no way to insulate the budget from that impact,” he said when discussing the employee retirement system and teacher retirement system contributions. “That is as dramatic of an increase as I have seen, but I do not expect the trend to continue. Will there still be increases? Yes, but I do not anticipate they will be as dramatic.”
McKeown said the proposed budget incorporates the use of $2,731,915 in fund balance.
In response to a question posed by Rice, Reynolds said the budget includes 10 teacher retirements, which will be filled, the addition of a fifth-grade teacher and the addition of a preschool family worker and a preschool teacher necessitated by the district’s decision to offer its own in-building preschool program due to the loss of its Head Start program.
Reynolds also said the district would be able to provide transportation to the 18 three- and four-year-old preschool students at no additional cost to taxpayers.
“We can provide transportation to the students without having to add buses or drivers,” she said. “If it’s approved by voters, it will not have an impact on transportation costs.”
Page 2 of 2 - In response to another question posed by Rice, Reynolds said the capital project currently under consideration by the board of education would not have an effect on the 2013 – 2014 budget. She added if the board decides to move forward with the project, work would include parking lot and roadway improvements and auditorium and locker room upgrades, as well as other items throughout the school facilities.
“The board has been carefully reviewing materials and meeting with architects, but no decision has been made on the project as of yet,” said Reynolds.
In addition to voting on the budget on May 21, district residents will be asked to vote to approve the door-to-door transportation of preschool students to their preschool program at Dolgeville Central School and to allow a student to serve on the school board as a non-voting member. They will also elect two members to five-year terms on the board of education. Incumbents David Clark and Karen Nagle are running unopposed.
The polls will be open from 2 to 8 p.m. in the James A. Green High School cafeteria.