Revenue loss forces Mayfield school tax up
MAYFIELD The Mayfield Central School District’s school board has adopted a $16.6 million 2011-12 budget that includes layoffs, reductions in sports programs and 5 percent tax levy hike.
Taxpayers would be paying more for less in part to make up for a $1.4 million cut to the district’s state education aid and $746,000 in unpaid taxes owed by the Hudson River Black River Regulating District.
Superintendent Paul Williamsen said after the next cycle of school taxes HRBRRD will owe Mayfield more than $1 million in unpaid taxes. HRBRRD has been reeling from a funding crisis since a federal court ruled in 2008 that it could no longer pass the cost of its property taxes on to downstream hydroelectric plants. The district no longer has any revenue with which to pay its taxes. Mayfield and the other affected school districts in Fulton County have filed a lawsuit against HRBRRD and the state for not paying taxes for each of the past two years.
Williamsen said the Mayfield school board has had to try to fill the funding gap with a tax increase, program cuts, including teacher layoffs, and spending $600,000 of the district’s surplus and $713,000 from its other reserve accounts. Williamsen said the adopted budget basically wipes out all of Mayfield’s reserves.
“The safety net now has big holes in it,” he said.
There will also be significant holes in the district’s educational and sports programming. The adopted budget lays off seven elementary school teachers’ aides, two elementary school teachers, one high school special education teacher, one high school English teacher, one high school social studies teacher and one employee from each of the art, music and library staffs.
Retirements that will not be replaced include a reading teacher and the buildings and grounds supervisor.
Positions that will be cut to part-time include a physical therapist, an occupational therapist, a high school science teacher, a foreign language teacher and a guidance counselor.
The budget would eliminate junior varsity soccer, baseball and softball, and modified volleyball and basketball would shrink to one team each, all for a savings of $24,000. The district saves $18,000 by eliminating funding for all extracurricular clubs. Williamsen said some clubs may be maintained through student fundraising.
School Board member Tush Nikollaj said some of the harsh cuts and lost jobs could have been saved had the district’s two unions, the Mayfield Teachers Association and the Mayfield Professional Staff Association, agreed to a salary freeze that would have saved the district $432,000.
Both units have rejected the freeze proposal.
MTA President Lisa Klena could not be reached for Thursday. Mayfield’s teachers’ union has made public statements suggesting the unit has made offers to the district that could save significant money.