Johnstown school board eyes 4% tax-levy increase

JOHNSTOWN – Greater Johnstown School District Business Manager Alice Sise is recommending the Board of Education approve a 2013-14 district budget carrying a 4 percent tax-levy increase.

The increase is below the state’s 8.8 percent levy cap imposed on the district.

The board hasn’t made a decision yet, although it is on target to adopt a budget at its April 24 meeting.

Board members are also waiting for state-aid numbers from the state budget, once it is adopted by the state Legislature.

“The next time you see a report, it will be the budget that will go out to the public,” Sise said.

District Superintendent Robert DeLilli said he expects state aid for the Johnstown district to go up.

“There will be an increase, but we don’t know what it will be,” he said.

The public would vote on the 2013-14 district budget May 21.

Sise told the board during a work session Thursday she favors a tax increase.

“I would love to see the board approve a 4 percent tax-levy [increase],” Sise said.

The board is considering a tax levy of roughly $7.6 million for the 2013-14 school year.

The maximum allowable under the state cap would be about $8 million.

The total increase in the tax bill with the $7.6 million levy for someone with a $100,000 home would be $91.

Total fringe benefits for employees, subsidized by health savings, will decrease by $677,000. Sise said about $400,000 would be “ample” for special education reserves.

The proposed district budget for the next school year stands at about $29.9 million, with $2.75 million in fund balance to be used to offset operating expenses.

Sise and DeLilli said Thursday the district is taking a “conservative” approach to financing not only for the next school year, but the next few school years ahead.

“It provides for stability,” DeLilli said of such an approach.

Sise told board members she hopes the board feels “comfortable” with a roughly $29 million budget.

The current proposed spending plan indicates a $1.36 million increase in appropriations, or 4.77 percent.

The district is looking to increase its bus fleet by six next year – three to be purchased with the sale of bonds and three purchased by using money in the fund balance.

Board President Paul VanDenburgh said there could be a 50 percent increase in costs in the teachers retirement system.

“A lot of that’s tied to the market,” Sise said.

Sise said no positions are cut, and services or programs won’t be cut or eliminated through the budget being proposed.

“There’s nothing cut; in fact, the board has added to the budget,” she said.

She said two teachers are added for the next school year – an elementary teacher and a special-education teacher. There will be some increases in art programs at the lower levels, and the district will create a new technology “learning center” at the former Jansen Avenue Elementary School building.

Sise noted a “substantial” increase in BOCES services costs of $722,362.

That reflects the transportation shift when the district combined transportation services in a regional hub with the Gloversville Enlarged School District.

“Debt service is going down a little bit next year” by $58,465, Sise said.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at