Budget Laid Out

Clymer Makes Its Case For 2019-20 Spending Plan

Clymer Central School held its budget hearing with the community Monday. District voters will be deciding the fate of the board of education-approved $11.5 million spending plan for the 2019-20 school year. The proposal also carries a 13 percent tax levy increase. Pictured above is a sign in front of the school in favor of the budget. P-J photo by Jordan W. Patterson

CLYMER — Needing the community’s support, the Clymer Central School District held a public hearing to discuss the upcoming budget vote.

The board of education approved the 2019-20 school budget proposal in April that carries a 13 percent tax levy increase. The current proposal is similar to the original 2018-19 school budget proposal that was voted down last year.

Inside the walls of the auditorium Monday, members of the community heard a presentation by Louann Bahgat, Clymer business official.

“I think the presentation was excellent, and I think (Bahgat) explained the situation we’re in very well,” said Ed Bailey, Clymer superintendent.

The budget totals $11,495,924 for the 2019-20 school year if approved by the community. While asking for a 13 percent increase in the tax levy, the overall budget is actually a $65,630 decrease from the previous year’s enacted budget of $11,561,554.

P-J photo by Jordan W. Patterson

The tax levy totals $4,853,194, a $569,362 increase from the 2018-19 school budget. A vote last year to approve a 13 percent tax levy increase was voted down by the public. The public approved a second budget that kept the tax levy flat.

Only two members of the public took the opportunity to address the board during Monday’s public hearing. The first dealt with variances among similar sized districts and the amount of state aid each district receives. Bahgat clarified that depending on the “wealth” of a district, state aid runs vary by district. She also noted that a potential tax levy increase won’t impact state aid in the future.

Bahgat’s presentation also clarified various cost savings the district experienced this year. Additionally, she explained the $500,000 New York state took back from a previously overpaid capital construction project, which was integral in the district’s current financial situation.

Bahgat also detailed the run of school years that the district did not raise the tax levy to the tax cap. From the 2012-13 school year to the 2016-17 school year, the district refrained from raising its taxes to the allowed tax limit, leaving $212,703 of potentially uncollected tax dollars from the community.

“I think we must’ve done a good job answering questions beforehand. I was happy with it,” Bailey said of the few comments from the audience.

The school district, having proposed a tax levy increase greater than the tax cap, will again need a 60 percent super-majority voter approval in order to enact the proposed budget. The spending plan is actually a decrease from the 2018-19 school budget that totaled $11,561,554.

Bailey said the district estimates the increase will equate to a $1.82 increase in the tax rate. The tax rate is not set by the school district.

Bailey previously recommended that if the budget fails the board should propose a budget within the 4 percent tax cap for the re-vote. The board chose to act similarly when the initial school budget was voted down last year and returned with a budget within the tax cap for the 2018-19 school year.

Before the hearing was opened for public comment, Bailey highlighted recent student achievement in the district. From the district’s Jazz ensemble, who opened the meeting with a performance of the National Anthem, to a list of graduating seniors’ collegiate plans, Bailey said the district continues to succeed despite recent financial restraints.

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