Odessa-Montour budget raises levy 4.06 percent
ODESSA—Several Odessa-Montour school board members asked for additional cuts in the proposed budget during the Thursday, April 11, board meeting.
Scott Arnold, district business official, presented the most recent 2013-14 budget figures, which included $88,446 in additional funding from the state. He initially showed the board a $15,248,282 total budget with a 4.06 percent tax levy increase. He explained this just fell under the state’s calculated maximum allowable tax levy limit; for Odessa it would be 4.12 percent.
Superintendent Jim Frame added that Gov. Andrew Cuomo said districts who are complaining about a lack of funds should have set tax levy limits at the maximum level last year. However, Frame explained the cap became known as the “2 percent tax cap,” when in fact two percent is just one factor in the formula. He said this meant many districts didn’t want to propose a tax levy increase above 2 percent, even though the limit was higher. The board is voting on the budget next Wednesday, April 17.
Board member Scott Westervelt said he wanted the district to keep the levy at 2 percent, by finding an additional $81,000 in cuts and extra funds. Board members Robert Halpin and Bill Schwenk also pointed out several lines in the budget that seemed high. Halpin questioned if those were reasonable amounts of money needed for contingency or just extra funds that will be rolled over into the general fund next year.
When asked about increases in BOCES costs, Frame said this is due to more students using the program. He also said the overall cost of teaching more special education students at the Odessa campus will decrease despite some contractual increases shown in the budget. He added he will have Director of Special Programs Roni Lewis double-check the numbers, though.
The board also discussed staffing and personnel funds, most of which was done in executive session. When Schwenk asked about a $28,000 increase, Frame explained that was for a school resource officer. Schwenk also questioned the replacement psychologist’s hours. Frame said it is really a full-time position, but grant funds cover 45 percent of the cost.