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Saturday, November 01, 2014
Canajoharie, NY ,
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Area benefits from new spending plan

Tuesday, April 01, 2014 - Updated: 8:10 PM

By CAROLINE MURRAY

For the C-S-E

Local schools will see an increase in education aid, and Fort Plain flood victims will get tax relief under the state budget adopted Monday.

Greater Amsterdam School District Superintendent Thomas Perillo said his district will get an additional $1 million in funding.

"We were hopeful we would get more money, and this is substantially more money," Perillo said.

In addition to closing the district's projected $770,000 budget gap, Perillo said any leftover money will be stowed away in the district's fund balance.

Broadalbin-Perth Central School District Superintendent Stephen Tomlinson said his district received a 2.69 percent increase in state aid, but it isn't enough to cover a projected shortfall in the tentative budget.

Tomlinson said any increase in aid is beneficial, but he was disappointed his district did not receive more.

"We were hoping the aid we received would close our budget gap, which is around $750,000 -- it didn't do that," he said. "We were hoping our increase would be close to 5 percent or more."

Tomlinson said he and business administrator Marco Zumbolo will go back and make recommendations to the board of education on how to close the gap.

Tomlinson said no school programs will be cut in the process.

"Closing that gap will not be an impact on our students," he said.

He said other school districts in the region received close to, if not double, the amount his district did in state aid.

Part of this is due to categorical aid, or money the district spends and is reimbursed for by the state, which decreased during the 2013-14 school year, Tomlinson said.

"I feel that is the biggest reason why our aid went down," Tomlinson said. "The increase from the governor's executive budget to the adopted budget is favorable for all districts in our region, but certainly does not come close to doing what it needs to do to educate the children in our region."

Fonda-Fultonville Central School District Superintendent Ray Colucciello said the state aid allows the district to remain under its 2.9 percent tax cap for the 2014-15 budget.

He said F-FCS is in line for an additional $500,000 in state aid.

"It is positive in a sense that it will not necessitate us making any program or personnel cuts," Colucciello said.

State Sen. Cecilia Tkaczyk, D-Duanesburg, said she advocated for additional school aid.

She said the adopted budget provides an increase of $1.1 billion for school aid, about $300 million more than the Senate resolution, and $500 million more than initially proposed in the executive budget.

"While I am pleased to see education aid increased beyond what the senate leadership would appropriate, I have conferred with school superintendents in my district who believe that for some schools, the increase will not forestall layoffs and educational programming cuts," she said.

Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, D-Rotterdam, said the the new plan includes language from the Mohawk Valley and Niagara County Assessment Relief Act to assist Montgomery County property owners recovering from the devastating effects of last year's flooding.

"We have put in a lot of work to build our community back, and this measure will go another step further by giving property owners in Montgomery County the opportunity for a fair tax assessment," Santabarbara said.

He said the measure will allow home and business owners -- whose properties suffered major damage due to the floods -- to apply for a property tax reassessment, if their 2013 assessed value did not reflect damages.

Assemblyman Mark Butler, R-Newport, said the budget caused some concerns for him, but aspects such as property tax relief and additional funding for schools convinced him to support the plan.

"It is, in the end, an election-year budget that was presented to us by the governor and legislative leaders," he said. "As such, it promises many things to many people. I hope those promises are kept."

     

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