For the fifth straight year, Haldane has managed to keep its tax rate increase below 2 percent.
The recently adopted budget by Haldane’s Board of Education will mean that property taxes will only increase an estimated 1.95 percent. It is a spending plan I can support for its creative cost-cutting and sensitive consideration of the needs of our district.
To achieve this spending plan the board:
• started work last year on contract discussions and successfully negotiated adjustments to employee benefits;
• realized savings from employee retirements as new hires will sign on at lower salaries;
• used fund balance and some rainy day reserves;
• temporarily eliminated one staff position; and
• refinanced high school debt.
These conservative efforts by the Board and Superintendent Villanti can only go so far, however. The greatest threat to the fiscal health of our district rests with the Gap Elimination cut to our state aid. For Haldane this means over half a million dollars in reduced revenue. In the past few years, the district has weathered this reduction with careful budgeting and also by applying federal stimulus funds. As of this year, the federal revenue has run out. This year, and for the foreseeable future until Albany substantially reinstates funding which the Gap Elimination took away, the district will likely experience drastic cuts to meet annual budgets under the new tax cap.
Please vote on May 15 for the school budget, and please support the returning Board Trustee candidates Evan Schwartz and Peter Henderson so that they may continue their work as conservative stewards of our school budget. Also, write to Assemblywoman Sandy Galef, Senator Greg Ball and Gov. Andrew Cuomo to request the reinstatement of state aid. Without reasonable state support, our school and schools across the state face a bleak future of severe cuts to programs.
Julia Famularo, North Highlands