Board planning budget

Wants to stay in state-imposed 6.2% tax levy

Greater Johnstown School District Board of Education members listen during a board budget workshop Thursday night at Johnstown High School. From left are: Kathy Dougherty, Ronald Beck, Angela Clizbe and Jennifer Sponnoble.(The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich)

Greater Johnstown School District Board of Education members listen during a board budget workshop Thursday night at Johnstown High School. From left are: Kathy Dougherty, Ronald Beck, Angela Clizbe and Jennifer Sponnoble.(The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich)

JOHNSTOWN — The Greater Johnstown School District Board of Education on Thursday discussed possibly staying within the district’s state-imposed 6.2 percent property tax levy cap for the 2017-18 district budget.

School Business Manager Alice Sise told the board that staying within that cap would mean the district can’t raise the levy any more than $490,368.

During a budget workshop at Johnstown High School, Sise told the board that it had to decide by March 1 not to exceed the tax cap. The consensus was to stay within the cap limit.

The board reviewed very early revenue figures and discussed fund balance, agreeing they will have harder numbers by the next board session on March 9 at Glebe Street Elementary School.

The board set a special budget adoption meeting for 5:30 p.m. April 6 at JHS. The public will vote on the 2017-18 budget in May.

“We don’t anticipate eliminating any positions at this point,” said Superintendent Patricia Kilburn.

It was noted there are about six projected retirees coming up, but only one is a teacher.

Revenue projections released by Sise showed that total revenue is estimated at $20 million, and it is slated to increase by $1.07 million. But Kilburn noted Foundation Aid is only supposed to rise by $286,591.

“That’s it,” Kilburn said. “The difference is what we spent.”

She said school districts get money back from the state and most of the projected increase totalling over $1 million will come from reimbursement.

“This is the refund on what we fronted,” the superintendent said.

Preliminary revenue figures were listed as follows: Foundation Aid – $14.9 million; BOCES revenue – $1.72 million; other revenue – $355,000; hardware and technology – $31,355; software, library and textbook – $128,710; Transportation Aid – $1.78 million; and Building Aid – $1.12 million.

Kilburn said that ideally the district would not like to increase its estimated $33.4 million budget passed for this school year, for 2017-18.

She discussed a possible $3.5 million gap in fund balance, adding: “This is what we have to try to chase down.”

“We budget for what things are going to be,” Kilburn said. “But we have to try not to spend it all.”

Kilburn said the district will have more concrete figures by the next session.

“We have to think of how to try to increase revenue,” she said.

Sise added, “Hopefully, we can nail down the [estimated] revenues a little clearer [next session].”

Kilburn also said the district’s task for the new budget is to communicate to the public how to shrink any gaps, and borrowing only what the district needs from fund balance.

Sise released information from the state comptroller indicating the state doesn’t consider the Johnstown school district to be in either financial or environmental “stress.” She said the district shouldn’t rely on use of reserves, but sometimes it must.

“We’re going to start utilizing those reserves more,” the business manager said.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at manich@leaderherald.com.

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