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David W. Ziskin

Superintendent of Schools

25 High Street

Fort Plain, NY 13339





Dr. Richard Timbs presents five-year fiscal plan to Fort Plain BOE

Dr. Richard Timbs, executive director of the Statewide School Finance Consortium, outlined a fiscal plan to the Fort Plain Central School District Board of Education on Tuesday, Jan. 22, where the district can remain solvent through 2017 by using its reserves and still keeping taxes under the 2 percent tax levy limit.

“We can safely get through 2017 and be solvent without many cuts to programs if the state government can come through,” he said. “The district is way ahead of other places. Out of the 40 districts I’m working with, only four or five look like they can make it to 2018. I have about 10 that we’re trying to make it through the year after next.

“We did a long-range plan here in 2009 and predicted we’d run out of money in 2013. The district didn’t because it took the right long-range financial steps. All districts should be doing this.”

Dr. Timbs praised the measures the district has taken to curb costs including:

  • An administrative staff reduction;

  • Instructional staff reductions;

  • Greater use of BOCES services;

  • Using grant writer services;

  • Using less energy; and

  • Reducing transportation costs.

The outline also incorporated the components of a corrective plan that has been submitted to the Office of the State Comptroller. In the fall, state auditors found the district has been holding more money in fund balance than is allowed by law. District leaders took multiple steps to make adjustments in reserve funds to accurately reflect the district’s liabilities and its long-range educational and fiscal plans. A part of that corrective plan includes a voter referendum for Tuesday, Feb. 12, with three propositions on the ballot.

Meanwhile, Dr. Timbs said the district’s required contributions to the state's Employee Retirement System (ERS) and Teacher Retirement System (TRS) could be “trouble” in the coming years because of larger increases.

He also explained how the district has lost almost $3 million ($2,828,042) in education aid because of the Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA), which is essentially an annual aid “take back” by the state to balance the state budget.

Dr. Timbs showed possible budgets for the years 2013-18 – including projections of revenues, expenses and fund balance – with a 1 percent tax levy increase, and under his projections, the district would have no remaining fund balance by 2018.

When asked what happens when a district doesn’t have money to stay solvent, Dr. Timbs said the state does not have a plan.

“There is no plan in the state for what to do when a district goes broke,” he said. “In the next few years, we may see 100 districts go broke…Fort Plain is way ahead of a lot of places.”

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