Gloversville district aims to contain spending

Gloversville school officials said Wednesday they are striving to hold 2010-11 expenses at current l

Gloversville school officials said Wednesday they are striving to hold 2010-11 expenses at current levels and present a budget with a tax increase of 2 percent or less.

Superintendent Robert DeLilli said the board’s goal is to hold the proposed budget at the current figure of $50.68 million.

DeLilli said the board will meet April 12 to address some final budget issues and reconvene April 19 to adopt a proposal to present to voters May 18. After about six meetings of the district’s budget steering committee, DeLilli said approximately $1 million has been eliminated from an original draft budget. Proposed spending has been reduced to about $51 million, DeLilli said, expressing confidence that the reductions will continue before a final proposal is finished.

Though school board President Peter Semione said the board is trying to avoid job cuts after eliminating about 50 positions last spring, DeLilli said a fluctuating state aid situation could yet jeopardize as many as six teaching positions.

While school districts across the state await a verdict on state aid for the coming school year, DeLilli said Gloversville officials are working with Gov. David Paterson’s budget proposal, which would reduce the district’s aid by $1.5 million.

“Our fate is in the hands of Albany,” DeLilli said, emphasizing the significance of aid decisions.

Semione said he is still optimistic that a tax increase can be held to 2 percent or less, perhaps as low as slightly more than 1 percent. Though state aid allocations could undermine the planning, he said such small tax increases are realistic.

With costs increasing and aid expected to decrease — even in the best-case scenarios — Semione said some tax increase will be unavoidable.

At the April 12 meeting, he said, “We’ll have an idea where we’re going to go with [the budget].”

DeLilli said the job cuts of last year put the district in a position to better cope with the budget challenges presented this spring. But, he said, districts will be under severe financial pressure in the spring of 2011 when federal stimulus funding for school districts is eliminated.

Loss of the federal funds, DeLilli said, will cost the district about $3 million.

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