By Jeanne Sager
SULLIVAN COUNTY May 3, 2002 With no end in sight to the budget deliberations in Albany, local school districts are nonetheless moving forward with their fiscal processes.
The eight districts throughout the county will hold public hearings over the course of the next two weeks to inform the public and measure residents concerns about the budget.
Although for the the 18th year in a row the state legislature has not approved its budget on time, schools are still required to hold budget hearings and have an approved budget by the end of May.
Were always in a ticklish situation because of the law, said Eldred Central School Superintendent Candace Mazur. We have to have a budget approved within a certain number of days, even without a state budget.
Many schools are producing an estimated cost analysis for voters to review, but most districts are still unsure exactly what kind of affect the budget will have on the tax levy.
Here is a list of the schools proposed budgets and the hearing schedule:
After a Meet the Candidates program in the high school library May 13, residents will be able to comment on Eldred Central Schools budget at 7:30 p.m.
The proposed budget is $9.4 million, representing a 5.9 percent increase from last year.
The two largest increases are due to insurance, said Mazur. We had a 35 percent increase in our insurance premiums after Sept. 11.
In addition, she said, the special education population in the district is growing and programs for special education students are costly.
The district has estimated that this budget will increase taxes by 10.1 percent, but without revenue figures from the state they are unsure of the definite figure.
We used the most conservative estimates of revenues, Mazur said. Its easier to drop the tax levy when the state budget comes in, I wouldnt want to have to increase it.
Residents in Fallsburg will be able to comment on the proposed $23.1 million budget May 8 at 7:30 p.m. in the high school auditorium.
According to Business Official Robin Zimmerman, the proposal includes a 6.93 percent increase in the budget from last year.
But, she added, without having a state budget and unsure of property equalization rates, the district has not determined the affect this budget could have on the tax levy.
Because of a revenue reporting problem last year, Liberty Central School is struggling to put together next years fiscal plan. Funds for last years budget were overestimated, said Interim Business Administrator Ed Rhine.
That means we have considerably less revenue being anticipated than last year, he noted.
Though its possible the state will come back with more money to help keep districts afloat, Liberty is in dire financial straits, Rhine said.
Libertys Board of Education has approved a $24.9 million budget for 2002-03, a 3 percent increase from last year.
The estimated tax levy increase is about 13 percent, Rhine said, but that will depend on the state budget and property equalization rates.
The public hearing for the budget will be held May 7 at 7:30 p.m. in the high school auditorium.
Residents of Livingston Manor will be able to ask the Board of Education questions about their $10.4 million budget May 13 at 7 p.m. at the school.
The districts proposed budget includes just a 1.25 percent increase from last year, which Superintendent Ken Gray said actually represents a lot of cuts.
The cost of living increase was about 1.25 percent, so this is actually a reduction in budget, he noted. We cut a number of things that didnt impact programs.
Because of the lack of information provided by the state, Livingston Manor officials are not sure what affect the budget will have on taxes. According to Gray, theyve estimated that this budget would have about a 7.67 percent affect on the tax levy in the district.
Voters in Monticello will be reviewing a $49.8 million budget this year, a 6.46 percent increase from last year.
The proposal includes an estimated 11.24 percent increase in the tax levy in the Monticello district.
Residents of the district will be able to voice their concerns May 9 at 7 p.m. in the Robert J. Kaiser Middle School cafeteria.
According to Business Manager Lisa Failla, the Roscoe Central School Board of Education has approved a $4.7 million budget this year.
That represents a 6.53 increase in the budget from last year. The resulting increase in the tax levy is estimated to be about 4.9 percent, but as in other districts Failla said without a state budget they cant know for sure.
Roscoe residents will have a chance to pose questions to the board May 14 at 7 p.m. in the cafeteria.
The budget approved by the Sullivan West Central School Board of Education is $25 million for the 2002-03 school year.
The proposal includes a 2.22 percent increase in the budget, said Superintendent Michael Johndrow, and an estimated 9.9 percent increase in the tax levy.
Its going to be a very tough year, Johndrow noted. The state still has not come back to us with revenue figures.
Residents of the district can speak at a public hearing on the budget May 7 at 7 p.m. at the Jeff-Youngsville campus. Informational sessions on the budget will be held May 9 at Narrowsburg and May 14 at the Delaware Valley campus.
Voters in the Grahamsville area will be deciding whether to approve a $20. 3 million budget this year.
According to Tri-Valley Assistant Superintendent for Business Lisa Raymond, that represents a 3.54 percent increase in budget from last year. Without state revenue information, the district is estimating that could have anywhere from a 12 to 14 percent affect on the tax levy.
Voters can comment on the budget May 14 at 7:30 p.m. at the school.