MCS seeks to close projected budget gap

By Joe Moskowitz
The State of New York is working on a new budget, and for the first time in years, the state may have a budget surplus. Margaretville Central School Superintendent Tony Albanese is also working on a new budget.
He needs to find a way to close a $174,000 gap and is hoping to do it by getting the state to stop making schools pay for the state’s fiscal troubles from previous years.
Since the 2009-10 school year, the state has taken back $2.4 million in state aid that was promised the school. The process is known as Gap Elimination.
Unless the state policy changes, the state, despite its brighter financial picture, will withhold, more than $300,000 in aid next year from a district that it still considers to be “wealthy” because of perceived real-estate values.
Albanese has met with several state lawmakers and has sent letters to Governor Andrew Cuomo, Assembly members Pete Lopez and Claudia Tenney, and Senators Jim Seward and Cecilia Tkaczyk. He plans to contact Assemblyman Kevin Cahill. And the school’s PTA is being urged to start a letter writing campaign.
Albanese said he is hopeful the GAP Elimination will be reduced and dreams for it to be eliminated. He will know by April.

Spiraling costs
Meantime, he and the board of education are working on a $10.9 million spending plan for the 2014-15 school year. If approved, it would result in a tax-levy increase of 2.49 percent. He said retirement, health, and dental costs have increased by $774,000 over last year. In order to balance the budget, the district will have to reduce spending by about $174,000. He hopes the state will help with that.
Once again, the district will be forced to use some of its surplus fund balance. Albanese is trying to limit how much of that is used. He said at the rate it was being spent recently, the fund would be out of cash in about two-and-a-half years.