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December 05, 2016
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ECS board hears good and bad

“It’s like wringing blood from a stone at this point,” he began. “We cut our sports budget by 10% or $30,000. We discussed the transportation budget and will be cutting $100,000 out of that. I’ve also authorized all department heads—instructional, administration, transportation and health services—to take a 50% reduction in all material and supply budgets. That generated a savings of $57,450. We’ve targeted certain BOCES services and our distance learning program. Next year, we’ll be setting a minimum class requirement of 10 students.

“We are operating under a $16.5 million budget, and without any additional cuts and before we add in contractual obligations of approximately $300,000 to 350,000, we will be starting off in February with a budget of $15.4 million,” Dufour continued. “We’re going to make every cut conceivable short of cutting program, because cutting program means cutting staff.

“I believe that if we show the public that we’re good fiscal stewards, we have a fair chance of getting our budget passed with the super majority. If we do not get a super majority, we can put the budget out two more times.” If the first fails, additional cuts will be necessary to reduce the second. “If the second budget is defeated, we’re on a doomsday budget of $14 million, which means significant personnel cuts.” A hiring freeze is currently in place.

The district’s fund balance will also be tapped to reduce the overall budget. “Our reserves won’t last more than two years,” said Dufour. “It’s a stopgap measure. Our focus is to get the super majority and to get the budget passed on the first try.”
Reiser explained further. “We have two sources of revenue,” he said. “We get state aid and we get property tax. The governor has been consistently cutting our aid back and subsequently giving us a two percent tax cap. He’s basically short-changing both sides of our revenue source.”

“The state aid that we get from Albany is nothing more than your tax money going to us in a different manner,” added Dufour. “When they cut our state aid, they’re not necessarily reducing your taxes, they’re re-allocating the money they cut to other purposes to run the state government.” The next meeting on December 8 at George Ross Mackenzie Elementary School in Glen Spey will include the last discussion on the cuts. In February, budget workshops will begin.