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Potsdam school board expected to adopt budget at its next meeting

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POTSDAM - When the Potsdam Central School District Board of Education meets on April 22, Superintendent Patrick H. Brady said he’s expecting the board to adopt its 2014-2015 spending plan.

“I’ve made the budget recommendation to the finance committee and they approved, so now it will go onto the board board for anticipated adoption,” Mr. Brady said.

The plan calls for $28,196,659 in total expenditures with the district’s taxpayers responsible for a levy of $12,188,521.

Mr. Brady said that’s a tax levy increase of $344,152 or 2.9 percent, which falls under the district’s maximum allowable tax levy increase of 3.09 percent.

The district was able to come in under tax cap thanks to increased funding from the state’s final budget. Using projections based on the governor’s proposal the district was looking at a shortfall of $118,672, after the adopted budget increased the district’s state aid allotment by $504,479, the district was actually able to fill its budget gap and reduce the amount of money used from its fund balance.

“The legislative budget was far better for schools than the governor’s proposal,” he said. “This will allow us to bridge the gap we had in our budget, provide additional support for our students, reduce the anticipated tax levy to less than 3 percent, and also reduce the amount we had planned to place in the budget from our fund balance.”

That being said, Mr. Brady said he remains uncomfortable with the amount of fund balance and reserve funds being used to balance this year’s budget.

Mr. Brady said given the new aid figures the district is planning to use $200,000 from its debt service reserve, as well as $1,896,420 in fund balance, an increase of $491,000 over what was used to support the 2013-2014 spending plan.

“Our goal this year was to not have cuts,” he said, noting the district was actually able to restore some cuts that had been made in previous years.

Additions to this year’s budget included a high school guidance counselor, elementary school teacher, part-time bus monintor and part-time custodial worker.

“I’m happy with the budget that we are able to put forth,” Mr. Brady said. “I think it’s a responsible budget given the resources we had to work with.”

Mr. Brady has also noted on several instances that the tax increase presented to voters usually ends up being higher than the one they ultimately received, with a 3.99 percent increase slated for last year that ended up being a 5.96 percent tax rate decrease, thanks in large part to a property revaluation. Prior to that a 2.89 percent increase became a 1.55 percent decrease.

Current tax rates in the district include $22.74 per $1,000 of assessed valuation in Canton, $367.39 in Parishville, $25.12 in Pierrepont, $22.74 in Potsdam, and $24.72 in Stockholm.

Rates vary due to the numerous equalization rates in the districts. Both Potsdam and Canton have equalization rates of 100 percent, while Parishville has a rate of 5.06 percent. Pierrepont has an equalization rate of of 90.5 percent and Stockholm has a rate of 92 percent.

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