POTSDAM - Should the Potsdam Central School District use $1.6 million from their reserves and fund balance again this year and next year, three years down the road only about $800,000 would be left in the districts savings, the districts business manager told board of education members Tuesday night.
As the district is working to close a $1.4 million budget gap, some in the community have suggested using more of their fund balance to help offset what may be as many 25 jobs lost.
Laura Hart, who serves as the districts business manager, said of the $1.6 million put into the 2011-12 budget shes only anticipating having roughly $500,000 of that left at the end of the year.
When that number is added to the districts reserve accounts, she said, Im projecting $3.7 million, but thats subject to change.
Ms. Hart explained the district has five different reserve funds, which can each only be used for a specified purpose such as employee benefits and accrued liabilities, tax certiorari claims, retirement system contributions, unemployment claims and capital building projects, the latter of which is an $880,000 account that can only be used with voter approval.
Board member J. Patrick Turbett, who chairs the boards finance committee, said in theory the board could propose using a portion of that money to help decrease the tax levy, however, redesignating those monies would require voter approval.
If we take that and use it the way weve been using it, Ill say $1.6 million, thats enough for two-and-a-half years. After that its gone, Ms. Hart said. We need to be careful with how we use it. When its gone, its gone.
Ms. Hart then made the comparison of a homeowner without a savings account, If you spent your entire savings account, you wouldnt last very long as a homeowner, she said.
Superintendent Patrick H. Brady said determining just how much of their reserves and fund balance to use next year will be a tough decision for the board to make as they look at weighing cuts, providing the districts taxpayers with a responsible budget and providing the communitys children with the quality education they deserve and the community has come to expect from Potsdam Central.
He also pointed out that dipping into their reserves and fund balance isnt something theyve always had to do.
Before the economic downturn in 2008, the district wasnt using any money from reserves, he said.
The districts budget discussions will continue at 6 p.m. tonight when the boards finance committee meets in the high school library.
Bring your sleeping bags, Mr. Turbett said, hinting that tonights meeting will not be a quick affair.