Proposed Clymer Budget Exceeds Tax Cap

The Clymer Board of Education approved a tentative 2018-19 budget Monday which included a 13 percent tax levy increase.

Superintendent Ed Bailey detailed the reasoning for the increase in an official statement.

“Following the overwhelming ‘no’ vote on the Clymer-Panama Merger and the resulting restructuring of administrative staff, we have been working on developing a school budget that will meet the needs of our students while keeping our taxpayers in mind,” Bailey said. “Our community sent a clear message that we want to keep our small school and offer a great education.”

Bailey cited two consecutive school years that featured 0 percent increases in the budget and a decrease in state aid for an increased tax levy.

The total proposed budget the board approved is $11,561,554. The total tax levy the board is asking for is $4,641,024 which is $357,192 above the tax cap. With the budget exceeding the tax cap, the school will need a super majority approval precentage when the district votes next month.

“We have scrutinized every budget code looking for areas to cut without sacrificing programs,” Bailey said.

Bailey said the total tax levy increase from the 2017-18 budget would be $529,000. He added the estimated tax rate would still remain one of the lowest districts in Chautauqua County.

“Small class sizes and favorable student to teacher ratios are (a) couple of the advantages of staying small,” he said. “We can and will continue to offer big opportunities for our students.”

The public hearing will be held on May 7 where the board will address the proposed budget with the district. The budget vote will be held on May 15 from noon-8 p.m.

In other news, Mike Schneck, board president, addressed recent criticism of the board during the meeting.

“Over the past few months, mine and a couple other board members’ integrity has been in question and I’d like to publicly address this and move on,” he said.

Schneck went on to explain the circumstances in which he and other board members were criticized. At a recent board meeting, it was made aware that a few board members questioned specific numbers that were used in Learning Design Associates merger study presentation for the Clymer and Panama districts. Questions were raised about the district asking for a refund from the merger study agency. Bailey noted during the meeting that the district’s attorney said there was no course of action regarding a refund.

Schneck said the board did not believe the presentation of incorrect figures was on purpose and that it had no impact on the vote.