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The Telegram
  • Hearing set on $20.7 million Herkimer school budget

  • Herkimer Central School District residents will have the opportunity Tuesday to comment or ask questions about the $20.7 million budget that will go before voters on May 21.

    The board of education has scheduled its annual budget hearing for Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the junior-senior high school media center.

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  • Herkimer Central School District residents will have the opportunity Tuesday to comment or ask questions about the $20.7 million budget that will go before voters on May 21.
    The board of education has scheduled its annual budget hearing for Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the junior-senior high school media center.
    The $20,736, 480 spending plan shows an increase of $584,018, or 2.9 percent, over the $20,151,875 budget for the current school year. It carries a tax levy increase of $305,018, an increase of 4 percent over the tax levy for the current year.
    “Early fall projections from the state showed decreases in aid from the previous year,” interim Superintendent Ted Kawryga said in a district newsletter. “Some aid was restored by the state Legislature in early April which helped us minimize staff and program cuts while staying within the tax levy limit.”
    When the budget process started, he said, the board was facing a $1.2 million deficit between revenues and spending. Eleven retirements, additional funding from the state Legislature and use of $615,000 of the district’s fund balance enabled the district to close much of that gap. The newsletter points out the district will not have the latter option in the future as its resources shrink.
    Some cuts were still necessary, said Kawryga. The budget eliminates one secondary English teacher and one transportation position, reduces the athletic director position and continues the elimination of junior varsity sports.
    “For the last three years the district has lost just over a million dollars a year in state funding,” according to Kawryga. “The governor has used that money to balance the state budget using a term called gap elimination adjustment. This loss in aid has resulted in program and staff cuts for the last three years.”
    This year’s gap elimination adjustment for Herkimer was $962,079, but the state Legislature restored $347,785 to reduce the loss to $614,294.
    “Any aid loss makes it difficult to present a budget that supports education, but we have done our best to offer children of the district a good sound education,” said Kawryga.
    In addition to the proposed budget, two other propositions will appear on the May 21 ballot.
    Proposition 2 asks for authorization to purchase two school buses - a 66-passenger bus and a wheelchair accessible bus - at a total maximum cost of $170,000 to be raised by the levy of a tax which would be collected in annual installments. These would replace buses in the fleet that are approximately 10 years old. The bus maintains a fleet of 18 buses and transports some 800 students on a daily basis, according to the newsletter. “State aid reimbursements make it more cost effective to replace the buses than to do expensive mechanical repairs and body work on our older buses,” the newsletter states.
    Based on the district’s current transportation aid ratio of 90 percent, the cost to local taxpayers would be about $3,700 per year for the two buses.
    Page 2 of 2 - Proposition 3 asks for voter approval to establish the Frank J. Basloe Public Library as a school district public library and authorizes the library to raise $270,930 to support and maintain the library. The library is currently a department of the village of Herkimer and receives most of its support from the village. This proposal would make the library’s service area and base of support equivalent to that of the school district.
    Three candidates have filed petitions to run for three open seats on the school district board of education. They are incumbent board member Robert Mihevc, Daniel Voce and Carl Lohmann. Harry Reeder and Nicholas Netti have decided not to seek re-election.
    Candidates for the Basloe Library board will also appear on the ballot. If the redistricting proposition passes, board members would be elected rather than appointed by the village. The candidates are Michelle Andersen, Charles Collins, Adam Hutchinson and Phillip Kane. One additional seat is open. Voters may write in a name to fill that slot.
    Voting will be May 21 from 1 to 9 p.m. in the junior-senior high school library media center.
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