Interim Depew School Superintendent Dennis Ford is advising the Board of Education to consider a $37.7 million budget, down about $1.2 million, for the next school year with a possible tax increase of between 3 and 3.5 percent.
The budget picture has changed over the past six weeks, when there was talk of a $241,344 increase, despite the anticipated loss of some $1.9 million in state aid under Gov. David A. Paterson's proposed budget released late last year.
Ford noted during a budget work session Tuesday evening in the library of Depew High School that the state aid picture remains unsetted.
"The dilemma right now is that the Senate has said it's going to support Paterson, but the Assembly has proposed restoring 41 percent of what the governor took away," he said. Ford cautioned that it would be prudent to "plan for the governor's proposal" and if any money is restored, "you can make changes later."
In recommending a 3 to 3.5 percent increase in the tax levy, Ford reiterated that the district has to look ahead to the 2011-12 school year, when federal stimulus aid expires. That two-year funding source is paying the salaries of 26 staff members.
Without that money, Depew would have seen a 4 percent increase in the tax levy for this school year. Instead the tax levy increased by less than 1 percent.
A 3 percent increase on a home assessed at $100,000 would add about $41 to the annual tax bill; at 3.5 percent it would add $48.
Ford also said of the possible tax increase, "From what I've been reading it looks a lot worse in many many other places."
"I'm trying to be enough of a pain in the rear end so your new superintendent knows to start the budget process [for 2010-11] immediately," said Ford, who will leave as soon as a permanent replacement for Kimberly Mueller, who resigned, is hired, probably by late June or early July.
In addition to accepting six teacher retirements, which could save $800,000, the board is examining recommended cuts totaling about $400,000 in nonpersonnel areas including elimination of the secondary academic summer school, the summer literacy program at Cayuga Heights Elementary School and some shared services with Erie 1 BOCES.
The board will adopt new budget numbers by April 13, but Ford noted that "adjustments can be made in how you get there" after that date.