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School Budget Hearing Draws Few People, Impacts Many

Gino Geruntino, WIBX

Only a handful of people showed up for the Tuesday’s formal presentation of the Utica City School District’s 2013-14 budget.

The proposed budget is nearly $139 million dollars, but is still only about a one percent increase over last year’s.

It also includes the loss of 81 positions, including 46 teachers, though it is down from the 99 originally proposed.

“We did put teachers back,” School Business Official Maureen Albanese said. “Originally, we were at 64 teachers being cut, but we did get additional state aid of $328,000 and we put back five and a half positions. Then, the state came out with this law that said after ten years, they could look at what they were paying us for interest rates and recalculate them. We were [supposed] to lose $407,000 next year, but they put a moratorium on it for two years, so we’re not losing anything for this year nor next year.”

Another 17 retirements resulted in the replacement of nine teachers, and a $210,000 grant secured by Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi will bring back three others.

But with a declining fund balance and higher costs, Albanese says the district is doing its best to maintain what it has.

“We’ve tried to budget so that we’ve covered everything that we possibly can think of, so that we don’t fall short,” Albanese said.

Though the budget has remained close to the same level as 2012, there is a possibility of it being voted down. In the case of a defeated budget, the UCSD has three options available to them. Those options include resubmitting the original budget, submitting a revised budget on the third Tuesday in June, or immediately adopting a contingency budget.

A contingency budget would adopt a budget with tax levies “no greater than that of the prior year” and removes non-contingent expenses from the original budget. Those expenses include building use charges and equipment purchases. Also, because taxes cannot be raised, Albanese noted that a $600,000 increase in costs could result in more teacher and program cuts.

Voting for the budget is scheduled for Tuesday, May 21st.

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