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Costs, Revenues Still Up in the Air for 2024-25 MCS Budget

Written By The Mountain Eagle on 2/23/24 | 2/23/24

Latest Version $855K More, but Will Likely Come Down

By David Avitabile

MIDDLEBURGH - Middleburgh Central School officials are sifting through uncertain state revenue and increases in expenditures as they continue to hammer out a 2024-26 budget.

MCS school business manager Robyn Bhend presented the current status of the 2024-25 budget proposal at last week's school board meeting.

As of last Wednesday, expenditures are projected to rise by $855,449 or 3.52% in the proposed 2024-25 budget, Ms. Bhend said. Some of these costs are still up in the air, she noted. Prescription drug premiums, a possible grant for the Afterschool Program, and notification of retirements (the deadline is March 1) are still costs on the expenditure side of the budget that are not yet settled. Reductions in projections for any of these items will result in a lower estimated budget increase.

As for the revenues, officials said the revenue side of the budget is still very much uncertain.

"Although we anticipate that the Save Harmless provision may be restored (in state aid), there are no guarantees that it will," Superintendent Mark Place said. "If the current proposal by the Governor was to be implemented with no changes, MCS would be looking at a budget gap of $1.37 million. Should the Save Harmless provision be restored with no additional increases, the budget gap would decrease to $601,280. Should the legislature include an increase in Foundation Aid, the budget gap would decrease further."

Moving forward, district officials and board members will explore several options, Mr. Place said.

"As our expenditures and revenues become clearer, the board and administration will explore several options we have available to stave off direct impacts to the instructional program. These may include using transfers from reserves, appropriating additional fund balance, and making cuts to non-instructional components of the budget," he added.

The current proposed budget stands at $25.27 million, up from the first draft total of $25.02 million. The budget increase in January was about $722,779 or 2.97 percent more than the current budget. The 2023-24 budget is $24.3 million, which was $501,000 or 2.1 percent more than the prior year. 

In January, Ms. Bhend noted that in the first draft of the 2023-24 spending plan, the increase over the prior year stood at $910,000 or 3.8 percent budget eventually reduced.

The teacher's retirement system costs will be up by 10.02 percent for next year. It could have been as high as 20.25 percent. and health insurance may be lower when the final rates are determined in the spring, thereby decreasing the budget total. Health insurance and prescription rates may climb by as much as nine percent each but the amounts will not be known until late March, she added.  

Additional costs in the budget include: funding the elementary after-school program, $300,000; college in the high school program, $15,000; and an increase in field trips, $10,000. The funding for the very successful after-school program, run by the Schoharie River Center, has been funded by grants that end in June. New grants are being sought. The proposed budget does not include $50,000 for an annual high school trip to Washington D.C.

In addition to the budget, voters in May will be casting ballots on a bus purchase proposition, based on the district bus replacement plan, There may be a new reserve account proposed for the future purchase of electric buses, which are more expensive than gas or diesel buses. A repair reserve for $200,000 would also be on the ballot, along with two school board seats.\

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