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Ogdensburg has $1.5 million budget gap to close by April 8

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OGDENSBURG – In the final weeks before adopting the 2013-2014 budget, the Ogdensburg Board of Education has yet to settle the matter of closing a nearly $1.5 million budget gap.

On April 8 the board will “adopt the budget and balance the budget,” Superintendent Timothy M. Vernsey said.

The district has proposed a $36,997,249 budget for the 2013-2014 school year, a $3.2 million increase over the 2012-2013 budget.

The district, according to state law, is able to levy up to $9.5 million in property taxes next year, a 4.69-percent increase over last year’s $9.094 million levy, although it will make a final decision at the April 8 meeting.

“With the crisis we’re in I would be supportive of a tax levy at the limit [of the school’s ability to raise it],” Vice President of the Ogdensburg Board of Education Michael J. Tooley said.

But closing the $1,407,923 gap will mean digging into the district’s dwindling fund balance and cutting positions and programs unless the state with increased financial aid in the state budget.

The state Legislature is expected to have a final budget by the end of the week.

In January, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo proposed giving Ogdensburg $19.8 million in state aid, not including aid for the on-going building projects, a $225,996 increase over last year.

That’s down from $20.6 million in state aid the district received in the 2008-2009 school year.

Mr. Tooley said he would be supportive of using up to $2 million of the school’s fund balance to help close the budget gap, noting that it would leave only $500,000 in the unreserved fund balance.

“I’d be comfortable with that – reluctantly,” Mr. Tooley said.

In the current proposal the district is assuming it will apply $1.4 million in fund balance.

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