May 9, 2012


City school district errs on levy cap

Slight miscalculation offset by $80,000 more in state aid given by assemblywoman

Staff Reporter

The city Board of Education learned Tuesday that its 2012-13 tax levy will be $32,000 less than first projected, “bullet aid” obtained by Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton will make up the difference.
Frank Ferraro, interim director of business services, said a state Comptroller’s Office auditor reviewed the Cortland city school district’s calculation of its legally allowable tax cap. The auditor reported last week that Ferraro’s use of the state formula — which even the auditors could not explain in April, when the budget was proposed — was slightly off.
The tax levy will be $15,734,511 on a $45.2 million proposed budget, a tax levy increase of about 3.3 percent.
The board approved a revised Property Tax Report Card, the document mailed to district residents by state law before the May 15 budget vote.
Superintendent of Schools Larry Spring said Lifton (D-Ithaca) obtained $80,000 in additional state aid for the district. That money would be used to offset the lost revenue, restore a music teacher position to full-time and could possibly, with about $12,000 left over, be used to add another section of an art class.
“That part is not dedicated to anything yet,” Spring said.
Spring said last week that Lifton offered to obtain the additional aid if it was used for music and art.
The music teacher position was slated to become part-time under the budget proposed by the board in April.
Spring said he attended a meeting of the district’s Financial Planning Committee where the budget was discussed. He said he has been surprised to learn how many people in the district think a voter must be a property owner, when in fact the voter must only be a resident.
People can register to vote at the time they come to the polling place. The three polling places will be Kauffman Center, Cortlandville Town Hall and Virgil Elementary School.
The board again tabled the March financial report by the district treasurer because board members Melissa Davis-Howard and Janet Griffin had too many questions about budget lines for St. Mary’s School and the district’s school resource officer.
Davis-Howard said it was unclear which of the funds allocated to St. Mary’s had been spent. Spring said he had promised the school’s principal, Denise Hall, that it would be straightened out.
Ferraro said the board accepts the financial reports, but not approve them. They are approved by the claims auditor. He said the claims auditor could come to a board meeting to explain his perspective.
Board President Joe Lyman thanked the district’s teachers for their impact on students, in honor of National Teacher Appreciation Week.
Lyman also announced the resignation of boys’ varsity basketball coach Karol “Mick” Lowie after 23 years in two stints. Spring said when Lowie was inducted last month into the Cortland High School Wall of Fame, it was remarkable how many of his former players attended and how many were coaches themselves.


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