The Greater Amsterdam school board adopted a proposed $52.9 million budget Wednesday, calling for a decrease in taxes for most of the district’s municipalities.
The budget would increase spending by 6.52 percent over the current year’s budget, but require no tax increases for most district residents.
The proposed plan uses $1.78 million from the district’s surplus. Board members opted to tap the fund balance to eliminate a need for a tax increase for district city residents in the hopes that this year’s budget would gain the approval of residents in the May 20 vote.
“I think I’d like to use more fund balance because giving city residents no tax increase will hopefully improve our chances of getting this budget passed,” school board Vice President Gina DeRossi said.
City residents would see a decrease in taxes by about a penny to $24.91 per $1,000 of assessed value, town of Amsterdam residents would see a decrease of $6.37 to $178.34 per $1,000 of assessed value and Florida residents would see a decrease of $1.51 to $29.36 per $1,000 of assessed value. Of the district’s eight contributing municipalities, only the towns of Charlton and Perth would see slight increases in tax rates.
The spending plan includes $1 million in state Contract for Excellence money, which the district is required to use to create programming aimed at specific student needs. After the state’s budget was passed, the district learned it was receiving about $400,000 less in Contract for Excellence money, resulting in the elimination of or reduction in some new initiatives. An initiative to extend prekindergarten classes from half day to full day at Tecler, McNulty and Barkley elementary schools was dropped and will be eliminated at Marie Curie Institute.
“We had felt strongly that the district should go to full-day universal pre-k,” Superintendent Ronald Limoncelli said. “But we believe that the state will mandate that by 2010, so we decided to hold off for one more year in the hopes that the state will give us some money to do that.”
State education officials still have to approve the district’s proposed use of its Contract for Excellence money.
Business Manager Roger Seward said this year’s budget was easier than other years because of some relief the district received with health insurance costs. Seward said district officials were also able to negotiate changes in the contract with the Amsterdam Teachers Association.
Limoncelli said the state will allow the district to use more of its allotted state aid toward maintaining current programs, which enabled administrators to hold the line on taxes.
The school board has scheduled a public hearing on the adopted budget for May 7 at 7 p.m.