School Board Member Lou Lapolla Calls Utica School District Budget Situation Catastrophic
One Utica school board member calls the district’s financial landscape and budget ‘catastrophic’.
Lou Lapolla, also a former mayor of the city, says it’s a director result of the underfunding of the foundation aid from the state, saying 70-percent of the Utica schools’ budget is ”state aid supported.”
It leads to larger class sizes and fewer programs, but says for a district that is the fifth poorest in the state, “I think we’re doing the best that we can.”
The school district had to cut 158 positions in last year’s budget and 58 more this year, while expressing concern about federal funding cuts due to the sequester.
Regarding the City of Utica’s financial picture:
”I feel sorry for Mayor Palmieri because many of these situations fell in his lap.”
Speaking about the city’s finances, Lapolla says ‘debt reduction has increased and the tax base has been reduced. Sixty-percent of properties are tax exempt, meaning the remaining 32% pay all of the taxes.’
When asked how he thought the city should handle unions and proposed or requested pay increases, Lapolla says, “I think you gotta tell them ‘We don’t have anything, we can’t give you what we don’t have.”
Regarding a state control board taking over the city’s finances, Lapolla says he doesn’t want to see that happen, but notes that regarding unions, ‘sometimes the control board might give more to the unions.’