Johnstown school budget seeks tax hike

JOHNSTOWN – The Greater Johnstown School District Board of Education on Wednesday adopted a $29.9 million district budget for 2013-14 carrying a proposed 3 percent tax- levy increase.

The tax increase is below the state’s 8.8 percent cap for the district.

The board voted 7-0 to approve budget expenditures totaling $29.87 million. Absent were members Mark Ward and Douglas Dougherty.

Proposed spending is up 5 percent from the current $28.5 million district budget. The levy proposed for the next school year is $7.56 million – a 3 percent increase from $7.34 million in the 2012-13 budget.

District officials said last month the total increase in the tax bill with the $7.6 million levy for someone with a $100,000 home would be $91.

The appropriated fund balance is expected to increase from $2.06 million to $2.62 million next school year.

Expenditures are up, but the district’s enrollment is expected to decrease from 1,878 this school year to 1,809 the next school year.

The board will conduct a public budget hearing at 6:30 p.m. May 7 in the Johnstown High School Lecture Hall. District voters are scheduled to vote on the budget May 21.

No jobs will be cut in the budget, and no services or programs will be eliminated.

“I think [District Business Manager Alice Sise] has done a great job of putting everything together,” board President Paul VanDenburgh said of the budget.

Sise in March had recommended a 4 percent levy increase, but said Wednesday she was OK with lowering the levy increase by 1 percent.

“I think the wise move for the board is at least the 3 percent,” she said.

Board member Angela Clizbe said she agrees 3 percent is the right level, as long as the fund balance isn’t depleted and there is no unexpected fiscal problem.

In March, the board heard from the district administration that total fringe benefits for employees, subsidized by health savings, were expected to decrease by $677,000 for the next school year.

The district wants 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.

The district is looking at a 50 percent increase in costs in the teachers retirement system.

Two teachers are added for the next school year – an elementary school 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.

The district is scheduled to have a more than $700,000 increase in BOCES services costs the next school year. Some of 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 next school year by more than $50,000.

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