Albion will seek voter approval on budget, school project on May 19

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 16 April 2015 at 12:00 am

File photo by Tom Rivers – The Albion Middle School is pictured during a snowstorm on March 29, 2014. The Middle School would have windows from the 1930s and 1950s replaced, as well as other upgrades, in a proposed capital project.

ALBION – The Albion Board of Education on Monday approved a $33.2 million budget that reduces taxes and also a $14.3 million capital project. Both will be presented to the public on May 19 during a vote from noon to 8 p.m. at the elementary school conference room.

The district’s proposed $33,240,940 budget reduces spending by $310,111 or 0.92 percent. The tax levy would drop by 1 percent to $8,355,939.

“It’s certainly a budget that should make everyone’s day on this board,” said Margy Brown, Board of Education president.

The district will see payments to the retirement system drop by $398,000 in 2015-16. The district also expects to save about $145,000 with staff retirements. The district will maintain staffing and all of its programs in the new budget, but retirees will be replaced by less experienced staff with smaller paychecks.

The district also budgeted a $133,000 decrease in tuition through the Orleans-Niagara BOCES and $72,000 less in debt service payments.

Rising salaries for district staff is the biggest increase in the budget at an additional $478,000.

Albion is projecting a state aid increase of $123,889. The numbers put out by the state show a $783,466 increase, but Shawn Liddle, the district’s assistant superintendent of business, said those numbers routinely overstate Albion’s aid by about $400,000. Plus, grant monies for Albion should be subtracted.

The state aid increase, combined with many of the reductions in the budget, is resulting in the tax decrease, district leaders said.

Albion has been holding taxes steady or dropping them for much of the past decade. In 2008-09, the tax levy was $8,727,589. Next budget it will be $8,355,939.

The budget vote on May 19 also includes a proposition for a $14,370,548 project for building reconstruction, energy and safety improvements. State funds will cover 91 percent of the project.

The district has its 9 percent share, $1,286,000, already in a local reserve fund.

The project will address many maintenance issues throughout the district campus.

The project would replace half of the roofs, upgrade parking lots, improve drainage on athletic fields, resurface the track, and add some exterior lighting and utilize more LED lights.

The District Office, currently housed in what was intended to be a temporary metal building in the 1964, would be demolished and those offices would shift to existing space at the middle school.

The capital project would also include stronger doors at school entrances and card access controls.

The fire alarm would be replaced with a new system at the elementary school, which would also see a relocated flag pole to the front of the building, HVAC upgrades, additional exterior lighting, and a new playground on west side.

The elementary school would also receive a shading system on the south side to reduce solar heat gain in the warmer months.

The capital project also will replace some single-pane windows in the middle school with more energy-efficient windows, upgrade the sound booth, improve the boiler and heating system, add exterior lights to northeast side of the school, widen the sidewalk by bus loading zone and replace decaying steel hand railing with aluminum ones.

At the high school, the 1,200 high school lockers that are less than 9 inches wide would be replaced with 800 lockers that are a foot wide. The bigger lockers would allow students to better store their thick backpacks and winter coats.

The high school library would also be repurposed with new technology to meet the needs of the 21st Century.

The capital would also include work on the bus garage, adding an emergency generator, and new doors and lighting.

The budget vote on May 19 also includes propositions to spend $460,000 for buses and $680,411 to be collected for Hoag Library.

There will be a hearing on the budget at 7 p.m. on May 12 in the High School LGI.