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School Vote on Budget, Trustees, Reserve Fund

by Dave Zornow

Nyack, Tues May 18 — Nyack School District voters go to the polls today to approve a 1.9 percent tax increase for the 2010-11 school year and to select two of the four candidates running for the board of education. Polls are open from 7a-9p.

Voters will also be asked to approve the creation of a Capital Reserve Fund where unspent operating funds can be set aside for future renovations or reconstruction. “The Capital Reserve Fund gives us the opportunity to put money away until we have enough to do some of the repairs we badly need without borrowing,” says Nyack School Board President Amy Applebaum.  Monies not spent in the budget could be moved into a reserve account. The district must get voter approval before spending any capital reserve dollars.

“Our administration budgets conservatively, which is more important than ever in these financial times,” says school board member Michael Mark. “In the event that we don’t spend as much money as we thought we would on some bigger ticket items like retirement or utilities, there may be funds left over in the budget.” Mark, who is running for reelection to the board, says the district would receive a significant cost savings if the fund existed. “When capital replacement projects come along, we could use money from the Capital Reserve Fund and not have to borrow as much.  This is not thinking small but forward thinking,” he says.

School critics don’t like the idea of a rainy day fund for the schools preferring that those dollars be returned to their own rainy day funds. “Funds ‘leftover from the operating budget’ should be returned to the taxpayers, not put in a ‘savings’ account,” says Valley Cottage resident John Pandolfo. “Those dire renovations should be included in the operating budget.  Anything extraneous must be put in front of the voters in the form of a bond vote,” he says.

School Board Trustee Mark says that regular repairs are already in the budget but that it’s often more cost effective to replace big ticket items like roofs and windows than continuously repair them. “Putting the cost of such replacements into the budget would just raise the budget too much,” says Mark. “We have to figure out other ways to get the funds.”

Board of Education candidate Richard Dysinger also supports the fund. “Once the money goes into the administrative fund it cannot be removed without the approval of the voters — no sneaking around,” he says. “It seems pretty sensible to me.  Pay for the new roof in cash, saving the taxpayer the cost of the bond and the interest associated with it while ensuring that taxpayers get to decide if and when these funds should be used.”

See also: School Board Candidates Info, BOE Candidates’s Forum 5/5/2010, Journal News Election Guide, 4/26/2010

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