Clymer Emphasizes ‘Seriously Depleted’ Fund Balance

CLYMER — The Clymer Board of Education has finalized its second 2018-19 tentative school budget that is up for revote among district residents on June 19.

The current tentative budget, pending voter approval, scaled back an original proposed tax levy increase of 13 percent to an increase equal or below the state allowed tax cap at 4.2 percent. The first proposed budget required a super majority approval rating of 60 percent while the new budget simply needs a majority as it does not exceed the tax cap.

Superintendent Ed Bailey said he was confident in the current budget proposal because of the results of the last vote.

Voters in the district voted 238 in favor and 237 against the budget earlier this month, but it was not enough for the super majority approval rating. By scaling the tax levy increase down to equal or below the tax cap, the district will only need a majority to pass the budget. The previous results would be enough to pass the current proposed school budget.

“I would think a 4.2 percent (tax levy increase) should pass,” he said. “We’ll see.”

The total budget remains the same as the previous proposal at $11,561,554, but the new proposed tax levy of $4,283,832 is decreased by $357,192, the initial amount over the state-allowed tax cap of 4 percent. The total budget is up 2.4 percent from the 2017-18 school year.

To supplement the budget without the 13 percent tax levy increase, as previously proposed, the district will deplete its fund balance to $105,270. The fund balance under the originally proposed budget would have remained at $462,462.

Louann Bahgat, business manager, emphasized that the current fund balance is “seriously depleted.”

Overall cuts to the budget included eliminating the shared services with Panama Central School and the K-6 principal.

“We are adding savings in that area,” Bahgat said.

If the budget vote on June 19 does not pass, the district will resort to a contingency budget of $11,489,354 which is a $72,200 decrease from the current proposed budget. Bahgat explained that the $72,200 would be supplemented by eliminating equipment purchases that included about $30,000 worth of iPads being brought into the school for educational use.

“If we don’t pass the budget and we go into contingency we will further be depleting our fund balance which will make it very difficult next year for us to balance the budget,” she said. “It’s very important that we pass this budget with only a 4.2 percent tax levy increase which is within the tax cap as allowed by law.”

Bailey ended the budget hearing by providing a second outside budget assessment from Dr. Richard Timbs, former Erie-2 BOCES superintendent. Bailey said Timbs’ assessment was similar to that of Bahgat’s and called for an influx of funds in the “near future.”

“(Timbs) pretty much said the same thing that our business official’s been saying,” Bailey said.

Bailey reiterated that the following 2019-20 school budget would likely ask district voters for a tax levy increase that exceeds the state tax cap. Bailey said the board plans on bringing together influential individuals in all three sub sections of the Clymer community to educate the district on the looming 2019-20 school budget. He hopes that process will be begin in the fall as opposed to waiting until March to educate voters.

“(We’ll try) to get more people well versed on the situation we’re in so they can understand it and be able to back (the budget) because we know it’s going to take another super majority,” he said. “Sixty-percent is an awfully tough number to get.”