Mohonasen starts tackling budget

District facing
 $1.4M budget gap, 4.1 percent tax cap

— Mohonasen Central School District is slated to receive an increase in state aid next school year, but that won’t be enough to close its budget gap.

Superintendent Kathleen Spring and Business Administrator Christopher Ruberti presented a budget development update during the Mohonasen Board of Education meeting Monday, Feb. 4, with the district 1.4 million budget gap. If the district falls at its projected property tax levy cap of 4.1 percent then almost $465,000 in cuts must be made. The district did not present any proposed reductions.

Preliminary state aid estimates have the district receiving almost $18.07 million, which is an increase of $594,300 or 3.4 percent. Spring said the district is planning to receive less, at $252,000 or a 1.5 percent increase, based on what it historically receives compared to the state says it will distribute.

Board President Dominic Cafarelli said presenting a budget exceeding its tax cap isn’t likely, which would require approval from 60 percent of voters. If taxpayers don’t approve a budget after two votes, a budget with no property tax levy increase must be adopted.

If it raises taxes by the maximum allowed by the tax cap, the district would still need to cut $465,000 to balance the budget. Spring said a teaching position is worth $67,000 to $70,000 with benefits, so the tax cap budget gap equals 6.8 full-time equivalent positions.

“We have always looked at across the board and not just teachers, so we would be looking at administrators and support staff,” Spring said. “We feel like we are pretty bare bones as it is.”

Administrative staff has taken the biggest hit in recent years, Spring said, coupled with increasing responsibilities such as implementing the mandated Annual Professional Performance Review.

Over the last three years, the district has made $6 million in budget reductions, including cutting 70 full-time equivalent positions. Unions have also made concessions to save money and positions.

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