Oppenheim-Ephratah budget keeps increase in tax levy below state limit

The Oppenheim-Ephratah Central School District will submit a 2012-13 budget for vote May 15 that wil

The Oppenheim-Ephratah Central School District will submit a 2012-13 budget for vote May 15 that will contain a tax levy increase of 2 percent, which is below the state’s allowable limit for the district, school officials said.

Superintendent Dan Russom said the district will lay off at least two custodians but no teachers and it will preserve most academic programs in the proposed budget. The district does plan to eliminate driver’s education as a cost-saving move in next year’s budget.

In another cost-saving move, the district may share some or all of its athletic program with the Dolgeville Central School District next year, a savings of $50,000. Russom said the district could decide this as soon as March 29, when the Board of Education has its next budget work session.

The two districts are already sharing some sports this year. He said the district has shared sports with other districts before, but a full integration would be a first. He said the district spends $100,000 to support sports and the $50,000 savings would come from not paying stipends, not purchasing equipment, not paying fees to conferences and not paying transportation costs to events.

Oppenheim will share spring sports — softball, baseball and track — with Dolgeville this year and it could get involved with Dolgeville’s football program in the fall. Oppenheim has never offered football and Russom said some students may participate, with Oppenheim paying Dolgeville a pro-rated share of costs.

Oppenheim District Treasurer Karen Mettler said the board is seeking to craft a 2012-13 budget that is about equal to the current budget of $8.4 million.

The board has so far reduced an $870,000 budget gap by about $640,000 through use of $300,000 of the district’s reserves and by including an expected $150,000 in additional state aid as revenue, Russom said, adding that some additional savings will be realized through elimination of positions. He said the board has to decide how to find an additional $230,000 in savings to stay at the 2 percent tax levy target. “We are still short. That is why our next work session will be important. Do we look at more cuts or do we use more reserves or a combination of both?” he said are questions for the board to answer. The district’s reserve account is currently at $850,000.

A 2 percent increase in the tax levy equals $48,000, which would bring the total levy to $2.5 million. Mettler said the district’s allowable tax cap, with exclusions, is 2.7 percent. That would yield $67,000 in new revenue, but she said the board will not exceed a 2 percent tax levy increase.

Categories: Schenectady County

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