Niagara Gazette

Local News

February 14, 2013

Falls School District spending projections soar

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette — "It would give relief in the near term to school districts, towns and cities, while it allows us to plan for the future," Hyland said. "There are some questions as to whether it's constitutional, but I look at it like I need to be able to plan."

Hyland and Bianco both said they'd met with Assemblyman John Ceretto to ask him to consider the pension reform. They said they also requested the TRS option be allowed to have amortization, which would permit the district to, in situations similar to this year, borrow money to spread out the effect of a massive increase.

Amortization already exists for the Employee Retirement System, which pays the non-teaching staff like custodians and secretaries, and Hyland said should help the district accomplish its goal of being able to plan.

"A school district, facing such a huge increase, says 'OK, we're going to close a school,' " Hyland said. "What happens if rates drop next year? Are they going to come back and reopen the school because they can afford it? We need to be able to plan for the future."

Meanwhile, the district's ERS contribution, not covered in Cuomo's plan, is expected to change from 18.9 percent to 20.9 percent, though it only represents an 11 percent increase in cost at an additional $215,000 because of amortization. Other increases projected thursday include a $1.6 million increase in teacher salaries and a $1.5 million increase to health insurance benefits, a projected 9 percent increase.

Assuming no reforms are passed by the legislature, Hyland said the district would require cuts to match its projected $122.5 million in revenues for next year.

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