Preliminary Hyde Park school budget shows $4.7 million in increases

Superintendent of Business Wayne Kurlander’s tone was cautionary as he gave a presentation on the preliminary 2014-2015 Hyde Park school budget at the Jan. 23 board of education meeting.

While the Hyde Park Central School District is on track to get a $1.4 million increase in state aid this year, Kurlander said, “The expenses went up just as much as the revenue…so you really can’t count that as an increase.”

Overall, the preliminary budget shows a 5.6 percent increase, with the expected increase in expenditures totaling about $4,713,946, according to Kurlander. Last year’s budget was $83,518,100, and the school district got $22,495,396 in state aid. Two of the largest factors in the preliminary budget increase are the rise of salaries and benefits, including payroll taxes, he said.

One of the biggest impacts on the budget will be the state-mandated property tax cap, which Kurlander predicted would be lower this year because of “an extremely reduced consumer price index (CPI) of an estimated 1.4648 percent.”

Using that percentage, Kurlander said there would also be a “budget gap” of approximately $3.6 million. That would come about if the estimated allowable increase is $1.1 million and there is an increase of $4.7 million in appropriations, Kurlander noted.

Kurlander stressed, however, that all the numbers are preliminary and that budget revisions will continue.

In response to the presentation, BOE chair Doug Hieter noted that Kurlander must still hear from various departments within the district.

“I want them to come in lower than last year, and if it’s not possible, then we’re talking about losing staff,” he warned.

BOE member Perry Sheldon expressed concern about the possible expenditure increase. “I hate to be doom and gloom, but when you add everything up, it’s just going to keep going up and up and up,” he said.

Hieter responded, “Unfortunately, ‘doom and gloom’ at the moment is our job.”

“The district will create a responsible budget, balancing critical needs with what the community can support,” Kurlander added.

The final budget is due to go to the Superintendent of Schools in April, but in the meantime, town residents can attend Budget Input Group meetings at the District Office. There are two scheduled: Wed., Feb. 26 from 6:30pm to 8pm; and Wed., March 26, from 6pm to 7pm.

The budget hearing is scheduled for 7pm at the District Office on May 12. The budget vote will be held on May 20 at the Haviland Middle School from 6am to 9pm.

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