ECS Prepares Budget
Preliminary Budget Shows Only Minor Increases
Story by John Thomas
The Ellicottville Central School Board held a budget work session to begin work on the preliminary budget for the 2018-19 school year. Budget Officer Amy Kilby worked for several weeks preparing the document. In her opening comments she said she had worked hard to keep the budget within the governors 2% tax cap. In reviewing the 32+ page document, she said expenditures were mostly kept the same. Ms. Kilby reviewed the few items that will be changed. The budget includes a slight decrease in the pay of the Superintendent. This was due to Bob Miller taking over the post from Mark Ward who retired last year. Teacher pay includes an increase because of their contract terms. Ms. Kilby said administrative services from BOCES will increase a bit. She increased external auditor fees because the contract is up with the old auditor and a new one will have to be retained. The school has changed its health insurance provider, resulting in an increase in costs. There are several items around the facility that will need replacing or repair, including the copier in the main office. The planned budget for substitute teachers and special ed teacher’s aids was increased.
Some savings are reflected in the budget. The school’s phone system was replaced with a Voice Over IP system issued from BOCES. It will produce savings for both local and long distance dialing. There may be an increase in revenue coming from local property tax. The Wingate Hotel’s PIOLT (payment in lieu of tax) will be coming to the end of its ten-year term. This means the property will be going back on the tax rolls. Just how much of those tax dollars will be directed to the school is hard to predict.
In going over the tentative $12,753,502 budget, the board expressed frustration over the budget process. It was summed up by Superintendent Bob Miller, who said, “Where else do you build your budget before you know what you are going to get?” He added he wished the state could give the board a formula for predicting future revenues. Another board member said he had trouble believing he future numbers the state provides.
In his final review of the preliminary budget the Superintendent said the board “doesn’t have a lot of wiggle room.” He noted minimum wage keeps going up and that he is aware of a McDonalds in the area that is paying up to $11.75 per hour. He said that makes it difficult to find good minimum wage workers. The board will review the budget and make suggestions for changes in account allocations. Mr. Miller said they have little control over increases in budget items, but urged the board to “sharpen their pencils.” There will be another budget work session next month.