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Serving the communities of Massena and Potsdam, New York

CPCS looking at $310,000 budget gap

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COLTON - Through their second round of budget talks, Colton-Pierrepont Central School officials say that their overall spending plan has increased by approximately $500,000.

Colton-Pierrepont officials are currently working on a 2014-15 budget with appropriations of $10,340,000, up from $9,840,000 in the 2013-14 spending plan.

“I wish we were in a better place, but we are not as bad off as we have been reading about in the paper for some of our neighbors,” CPCS Superintendent Joseph A. Kardash said. “This is the second round for the budget. We are still in negotiations, and we haven’t gotten the final BOCES prices and the final fuel and energy prices.”

The budget also currently shows a revenue increase of $130,000 and total tax levy of $7,060,000.

“The major things are calculating our tax cap, and we are currently at 0.86 percent, which equals just over $60,000. That is big news,” Mr. Kardash added. “If you add what we will get in aid, and what we get in taxes, we are still short $310,000.”

The budget breakdown for 2014-2015 includes numerous factors that are anticipated to affect the final numbers.

They include an anticipated increase of $150,000 in special education needs, increased health care costs of about $160,000, and the reduction of a school psychologist, which will subtract $37,000.

Mr. Kardash noted that one of the board’s hopes is state lawmakers will reach a budget deal that calls for the end of the Gap Elimination Adjustment. The GEA was first enacted for the 2010-2011 fiscal year in an effort to help close the state of New York’s then $10 million budget deficit.

A portion of the funding shortfall at the state level was divided among all school districts throughout the state and reflected as a reduction in school district state aid.

“We were hoping for an end to the Gap Elimination Adjustment. That would make us whole,” Mr. Kardash said.

The CPCS Board of Education is expected to further discuss their budget at their next regular meeting on March 19.

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