Spending down in Fredonia’s latest proposal, but more work to meet tax

Spending within the Fredonia Central School District’s latest budget proposal is down, but more work remains to meet the tax cap.

Unknowns still remain over final employee benefits, the final tax cap calculation and aid the school district will receive from the state. Business Administrator John Forbes acknowledged to board of education members at a recent meeting that such unknowns are typical this time of year.

“The final employee benefits, that’s going to be based on final staffing,” Forbes said. “We don’t have the final BOCES cost. We’ll be going through those in the next month-and-a-half or so. (There’s) no final state aid runs which are anticipated toward the end of March, hopefully.”

Expenditures in the latest proposal are at $33.3 million, down from $34.1 million in the initial budget draft. As for salary and benefits, Forbes said that number hasn’t changed much, $22 million. Forbes said the budget shows three retirements and replacements for those positions.

While equipment and materials are up 11 percent, $100,000, Forbes said it’s not a lot of money when looking at the $30 million budget.

BOCES services are up 21.7 percent, or $663,000 in the latest proposal. Forbes reiterated that 60 students are projected to obtain occupational therapy services this year. The figure is typically anywhere between 39 to 41 students.

“It’s about $9,000 per student for occupational education expenses,” Forbes said.

While expenditures are down from the previous proposal, Forbes noted that it represents a 4.7 percent increase in spending from the last year. The estimated tax levy is $17.1 million, down about $136,000 from the last budget draft. Forbes said the decrease is a result of adjusting 37 different line items.

In order to maintain the tax cap, the district needs to reduce spending by $812,000 from the latest draft.

“We’ve begun the process of going through a line by line review, whittling down our estimates and actually looking at individual school budgets and also things like maintenance,” Forbes said. “On the revenue side, remaining unknowns (include) no final state aid (numbers), which include foundation and categorical aid.”