Johnstown district OKs budget

JOHNSTOWN – The Greater Johnstown School District Board of Education on Thursday adopted a $30.3 million 2014-15 district budget that increases appropriations by 1.5 percent and contains a tax-levy increase of 2.47 percent, which is below the state-imposed tax cap.

The budget maintains services, allows for technology increases, takes into account changes such as grade-level grouping and adds six full-time teaching positions.

“It’s a good budget,” said board President Paul VanDenburgh.

The board voted 8-0 to “accept” proposed expenditures of $30.3 million contained in the proposed budget, which is up by $448,080. The board also approved the district’s “property tax report card” to be submitted to the state Education Department.

A budget hearing is scheduled for 6 p.m. May 13 in the Johnstown High School Lecture Hall. District voters will have the final say on the budget in a public vote from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. May 20.

Superintendent Robert DeLilli and School Business Manager Alice Sise explained the proposed spending plan to the school board Thursday. Total proposed spending went up by 1.5 percent, from the current $29.8 million budget. The tax-levy increases from $7.56 million to $7.75 million for the next school year. That would add $187,034 to the levy and be the maximum allowable increase under the state tax-cap calculation.

DeLilli said projected expenditures are coming in below cost-of-living increases.

He said tax rates for the district will be set in August, but the district projects the property tax bill for a $100,000 home next school year may go up by about $54.

“You really have shown an interest in education,” DeLilli said of the budget. “It’s a technology boost, it’s a music boost, it’s an arts boost. We think it’s a good budget for the kids.”

Total state aid projected in the budget would increase by $986,715 – from about $17.29 million in the current budget to $18.28 million proposed for 2014-15.

“As you can see, there is a little bit of an increase of our state aid in foundation aid,” DeLilli said.

He said that type of aid – increasing by $119,580 for a projected total of $14.1 million for next school year – is the aid the district relies on most to operate the schools.

As far as other revenues in the budget, DeLilli said, “That really hasn’t changed much.”

Total projected revenue is increasing by $726,372 – from $27.07 million in 2013-14 to $28.11 million for 2014-15. Revenue sources other than state aid are projected to increase by $55,404 – from $9.77 million to $9.83 million.

Also in connection with adoption of the annual 2014-15 district budget, the board wants district voters to authorize the purchase of three 66-passenger school buses for the 2014-15 school year at a cost not to exceed $350,165.

Approval by voters would allow the district to use the tax levy or possibly issue bonds for borrowing to pay for the buses.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at manich@leaderherald.com.