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General Brown board selects new financial adviser

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DEXTER — The General Brown Central School District’s dire financial situation has the Board of Education pinching pennies in every nook and cranny it can find.

Although saving $11 an hour by switching financial advisers may not sound significant, every dollar saved creates less burden on the taxpayers when a 2013-14 budget comes up for vote in May. District taxpayers pay the tax levy, the total amount to be raised by taxes. Tax rates, however, vary from town to town and are not set until August, after a budget is approved.

“It came down to money,” District Treasurer Lisa K. Smith said, regarding the financial adviser switch. “We looked into all of our options and found a more cost-effective adviser.”

The Board of Education unanimously approved the switch, 6-0, during its monthly meeting Monday at the junior-senior high school, 17643 Cemetery Road.

The school district had paid Bernard P. Donegan Inc., Victor, $136 per hour, but now will pay Fiscal Advisors & Marketing Inc., Syracuse, $125 per hour.

Mrs. Smith said the district has been very happy with Donegan’s services. It was the Donegan firm that provided a report to the board last year that said because of the district’s dire financial situation, it could be broke by 2015. The firm also helped the district through its $13.3 million capital project since 2008, Mrs. Smith said.

The project, which involved improvements at all district buildings, was completed this year.

“There’s been a huge relationship and they’ve been instrumental in doing state reporting,” Mrs. Smith said. “They’ve done a wonderful job with that.”

She said Donegan’s firm has served the district well for about eight years. Before that, the district used Fiscal Advisors. Mrs. Smith said she was unsure why the switch was made back then, but said it also could have come down to the price tag.

Meanwhile, Benjamin Maslona, a certified independent public finance adviser/municipal adviser with Fiscal Advisors, gave a presentation to board members Monday before the vote on services his company offered. Mr. Maslona will now serve as General Brown’s lead adviser. He has “worked with over $10 billion in finance,” he said, throughout his 14-year career.

Fiscal Advisors, he said, also has a dedicated school aid adviser. While the firm’s main focus is capital projects, Mr. Maslona said, the experience of all staff members is wide-reaching.

Fiscal Advisors also has a presence in the north country, having already worked with several local school districts.

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