Tentative GASD budget adopted, taxes to decrease for most

At Wednesday’s meeting, the Board of Education for the Greater Amsterdam School District adopted a tentative budget of $63,315,237 for the 2014-15 school year, which will be subject to a public vote on May 20. School Business Manager Kim Brumley outlined the proposed budget, which would maintain or enhance programs at their current levels with no cuts to staff, while falling below the current year’s tax levy.

The total tax levy will come in at $20,634,525, a decrease of 3.75 percent from the 2013-14 school year. For local communities, the estimated tax rate (per $1000 of taxable assessed value) would decrease by $1.913 for the City of Amsterdam, $4.508 for the Town of Amsterdam, $2.999 for the Town of Perth, and $1.509 for the Town of Glenville. The Town of Florida would see an increase of $.021 in its estimated tax rate.

The decrease is due in part to the Payment In Lieu Of Tax agreement made with Target on the expansion of the facility located at 1800 State Route 5S in the Town of Florida. According to the agreement, GASD will receive $1,101,256.88 from Target in 2014.

In addition to normal operational expenditures, the coming year’s budget will include three one time expenditures. These expenses consist of funding for the first year of the HFM Pathways in Technology Early College High School, the replacement of high school marching band uniforms that have been in use since 1996, and the creation of a retirement reserve.

Brumley stated that the reserve could be used when state and local retirement payments exceed the anticipated appropriations for the current year. According to the proposal, $603,669 would be placed in reserve, being taken from GASD’s adjusted unrestricted fund balance. This would put the fund balance at $2,811,500, an increase from the previous year’s balance of $2,134,557.

Placing this sum in reserve will put the fund balance at 4.44 percent of the district’s total budget, slightly above the state comptroller’s recommendation of 4 percent. Brumley noted that the sum in the reserve could be returned to the fund balance if needed.

Mike Dardaris, HFM P-TECH’s principal, gave a presentation on the new school. Located in Johnstown, the school allows graduating students to earn both a high school regents diploma and an associate’s degree from FMCC, at no cost to the student’s families. The program is specifically for at risk students, with room for 50 students in the freshman class.

The school utilizes project and experience based learning, with students choosing one of four career clusters. Students may choose from information technology, business management and administration, health sciences, and advanced manufacturing. The school operates on a four to six year model depending on what degree path students choose.

The Board of Education will hold a public hearing on the proposed budget on May 6 at 6 p.m. at the Central Administration Building. The budget vote will take place on May 20.

Ashley Onyon

Ashley Onyon is a graduate of the journalism program at SUNY Albany. She has contributed articles to The Mohawk Valley Independent and the annual journal Upstream.