MCS proposed budget reflects a 2.49% tax levy hike

By Brian Sweeney
Margaretville Central School District residents will vote on a 2014-15 spending plan that reflects a 2.49 property tax levy increase on May 20 from 2-8 p.m.
The total proposed budget is $10,842,681, an increase of $263,549 (also 2.49 percent) from the current spending plan. The district’s budget includes the use of $529,556 of fund balance and reserves to help offset increased costs.
The biggest areas of change in the budget include:
• Health, dental and medical reimbursements up from $1,775,938 to $2,137,705.
• Increases in teacher and employee retirement contributions of $150,263 and $29,313, respectively.
• Reductions of $260,177 in State Aid as part of the Gap Elimination Adjustment program. The district has lost more than $2.3 million in State Aid since 2009 when the Gap Elimination Adjustment was implemented to help balance the state budget.
In an effort to balance rising costs, the administration and board of education have made a number of reductions:
• Grade 5 was reduced to one section as a result of lower enrollment.
• Reducing one elementary teaching position due to retirement/attrition.
• Reducing one teacher assistant position due to retirement/attrition.
Superintendent Tony Albanese said a considerable amount of tough cuts were made to keep the tax levy increase down.
“This budget represents a recognition of the realities facing our students and community.  It keeps all programs that are vital to a well-rounded education in place to assist students to be college and career ready.  It continues to address a decline in enrollment seen countywide and the lack of appropriate state aided fiscal resources needed to implement state imposed mandates on education.  The budget also takes into account the fiscal pressures our community members and municipalities continue to face post Irene,” the MCS superintendent stated. 
The tax increase does not exceed the district’s tax levy limit and can be passed by a simple majority of votes.
Residents will also vote for one of two school board candidates, incumbent Kurt Holcherr of Fleischmanns or challenger Doris Warner of Margaretville. The board term is for three years.