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
“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
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