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Voters approve $74.6 million budget; elect Board members

On May 15, Fayetteville-Manlius School District voters approved the district’s $74.6 million 2012-13 budget proposal, elected three Board of Education members and approved three propositions.

Voters approved:

·         A $74,576,122 budget for the 2012-13 school year that increases spending 0.75 percent ($555,369) and carries a 1.95 percent tax levy increase: 1,328 yes, 531 no;

·         Purchasing four new 71-passenger school buses and one 36-passenger wheelchair bus at a total cost not to exceed $594,293: 1,166 yes, 571 no;

·         Supporting the Fayetteville Free Library, $1,409,786: 1,308 yes, 521 no; and

·         Supporting the Manlius Library, $1,090,150: 1,351 yes, 488 no.

Voters also elected three candidates for the three open Board of Education seats:

·         Incumbent and current Board President Marissa Joy Mims: 1,361 votes;

·         Incumbent and current Board Vice President Lisa Lukasiewicz Izant: 1,439 votes;

·         Rebecca Shiroff: 1,329 votes.

Each will serve three-year terms, beginning July 1. Board member Ilene Mendel did not seek re-election.

There were 46 absentee ballots submitted, which will not change the outcome of the results.

Of the residents who voted, 71.4 percent voted in favor of the budget proposal.

“We want to thank all of our community members who came out and voted today. Our community’s steadfast support allows us to deliver the educational programs that our students need to compete and be successful in the classroom and beyond,” said Superintendent Corliss Kaiser.  “Throughout the budget process, we looked for ways to reduce what we offer rather than eliminate entire programs and services, knowing that it is easier to build something back up rather than start over. This philosophy helped guide the tough decisions this budget demanded. ”

The tax levy increase was reduced to 1.95 percent from initial calculations that called for a necessary 6.13 percent increase to balance the budget because of anticipated revenue losses from state, federal and county governments and increased operational costs, such as state mandated increases to employee pensions and health insurance.

Administrators reduced the tax levy increase – or the amount of revenue raised through property taxes – through a number of strategies, including:

·         Cost-saving measures (such as using BOCES services) that contained spending by about $3,290,415 million;

·         Spending reductions of $749,764, including the elimination of seven staff positions;

·         Applying $1.7 million of the district’s undesignated fund balance; and

·         Using $509,000 from the district’s Workers’ Compensation Reserve Fund to pay workers’ compensation costs.

Budget reductions included eliminating seven full time equivalent staff positions and reducing funding for material and supply purchases, extra-classroom activities and transportation costs.

“On behalf of the Board of Education, I want to thank the voters for approving this budget,” said F-M Board President Marissa Joy Mims. “Our mission directs that we provide our students with an excellent educational experience and opportunities to reach their fullest potential. This budget does that in a fiscally responsible manner for our taxpayers, who are the backbone of our school district.”

The 2012-13 tax levy increase of 1.95 percent is below the district’s calculated tax levy limit of 2.81 percent, per the state’s new property tax levy cap law. The law, which the media and some politicians often erroneously refer to as a 2 percent cap, requires each school district to calculate its own levy limit based on a complex multi-step formula.

The limit does not cap how much a district can raise through property taxes. Instead, it determines at what level a school district must have a supermajority (60 percent) rather than a simple majority (50 percent plus one) approve the budget proposal.

After much consideration, F-M officials opted to propose a budget with a tax levy increase lower than its allowable limit.

“This will be the fourth consecutive year we have proposed a budget with a tax levy increase below two percent,” said F-M Assistant Superintendent for Business Services Michael Vespi. “Although it was difficult to make reductions – as it is every year – we felt it was appropriate given that some members of our community are struggling financially.”  

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