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Potsdam Central eyes $2.5 million budget gap


POTSDAM — While Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is touting a 3.8 percent increase in education aid, Potsdam Central School Superintendent Patrick H. Brady said that’s not exactly the case.

“That includes new programs and initiatives,” he said, referring to the prekindergarten expansion, teacher incentive bonuses and technology spending to which Gov. Cuomo referred in his State of the State address.

“Really it’s a 3.1 percent increase in actual aid that’s going to schools,” he said, referring to the $607 million pot of additional aid that is being divvied up across the state.

Of that figure, Mr. Brady said, only $284 million is categorical aid, with the other $323 million coming in the form of reductions in the $1.3 billion gap elimination adjustment.

For the Potsdam Central School District, Mr. Brady said, the governor’s proposal presented it with an aid increase of only 1.97 percent, or $221,600.

Based on that increase, Mr. Brady said, the district is looking at a budget gap of $2.5 million before the use of fund balance and reserves, as well as any tax levy increase that is considered.

He also said that based on this year’s Consumer Price Index of 1.46 percent, the so-called 2 percent tax cap will actually be a 1.46 tax cap.

A tax levy increase of 1.46 percent would generate $177,000 in revenue for the district, Mr. Brady said.

“Both of these (tax levy increase and funding increase) will not be enough to meet our increase in employee benefits,” he said. “We’re going to have a very challenging budget year if we don’t get some help from the Legislature.”

Mr. Brady said he will meet with the district’s state representatives on Friday to lobby them for increased aid before the state budget is finalized.

As for what he thinks of the proposal as it stands, Mr. Brady said he was disappointed by the initial figures.

“The governor’s proposal was disappointing,” he said. “It’s going to be a struggle.”

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