Saugerties school district faces revenue shortfall

The proposed $65.8-million Saugerties school district’s draft budget for the 2019-20 school year represents an increase of roughly $1.8 million, or 2.83 percent, over the current year. The proposed budget comes with a potential tax-levy increase of 2.67 percent. School officials will try to deal with a revenue shortfall of $705,423 prior to the school board meeting scheduled for next Tuesday, April 9. 

The budget has been crafted during a period of administrative flux. Seth Turner and Lissa Jilek, the superintendent and business manager who created the 2018-19 spending plan, have left the district. Deputy superintendent Lawrence Mautone has served as interim superintendent since Turner left in September, and Donald Gottlieb has taken on the role of business manager from Warren Donohue, who served in an interim capacity after Jilek’s departure. 

The district was helped in its budget process by a decrease in health insurance costs.

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At $29.6 million, or 44.96 percent, salaries comprise the greatest portion of the proposed budget. Fringe benefits ($18 million, 27.49%), contractual expenses ($6.7 million, 10.19%) and Boces programs ($5.6 million, 8.47%) were other sizable portions of the draft spending plan. 

Voters in the district overwhelmingly approved the 2018-19 budget, which passed by a margin of 663-345. The weather was believed to play a role in the relatively poor turnout. 

The Ulster County Board of Elections reduced to four the number of voting machines the school district will be able to use on Tuesday, May 21. While some other local school districts are reducing voting hours to accommodate the reduction in polling places and voting booths, school officials in Saugerties decided not to change the voting locations or the voting hours of 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

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