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Update on 2020-21 budget development

Fonda-Fultonville school leaders are in the process of developing the proposed 2020-21 budget. On Monday, March 23, Superintendent Thomas Ciaccio and Business Official Tabatha Biggane shared a preliminary plan with the Board of Education.

Based on state aid projections in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive budget and an unexpected reassessment that reduced Payments In Lieu of Taxes (PILOTs), available revenue for next year will not cover the growth in expenses. The district has a budget gap that needs to be closed.

The district developed a “rollover” budget for next year that amounts to $30.6 million, which represents a 0.9% year-to-year spending increase. A rollover budget is the total amount of money required to pay for current-year programs, staffing and services at next year’s prices.

Based on the state aid for the district in the governor’s budget proposal and the rollover budget, we currently have a revenue gap of $900,000 for next year.

One of the first pieces of information that was presented was the district’s state aid history. For the last five years, we have received an annual aid increase of approximately $895,000. The executive budget proposes a $27,500 increase in state aid for FFCS for the next school year.

“The state aid projections for next year represent a challenge,” Ciaccio said. “Almost 62% of our budget revenue comes from state aid, and our projected increase in aid is 0.15%.”

Final state aid figures will be known when a state budget is adopted. For the state budget to be considered “on-time,” it must be adopted by April 1.

Ciaccio and Biggane also discussed a decrease in PILOT payments that were promised to FFCS. Under PILOT agreements with Dollar General and Target for local distribution center projects, FFCS was promised set payments. However, the payments were at least $215,000 short due to a reduction in assessed value that occurred after the district’s 2019-20 budget was completed. The district was not notified of these reassessments, which impact revenue projections for current and future budgets.

Ciaccio is recommending to address the budget gap with a balanced approach of increasing the tax levy, the use of fund balance and spending reductions.

The tax levy limit or “cap” for Fonda-Fultonville next year is 6.2%. District leaders will determine the tax levy change for the 2020-21 budget proposal once state aid is finalized in the adopted state budget.

The next budget workshop will be held Monday, April 20 at 6 p.m.