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Ogdensburg school district faced with steady decline of its fund balance

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OGDENSBURG — Ogdensburg City School District administrators worry about having to dip further into savings to balance the budget after a 2012-13 audit showed the fund balance is declining.

The district spent $32.44 million during the last fiscal year and took in $31.7 million, according to an audit by the Pinto, Mucenski, Hooper, VanHouse and Co. accounting firm.

The district applied $768,646 from the fund balance to fill the gap between revenues and expenses.

“You have to keep in mind that we are approaching a deficit fund balance,” Board of Education Vice President Michael J. Tooley said at Monday’s board meeting.

The district’s fund balance currently stands at $3.48 million, down from $4.3 million at the beginning of the 2012-13 fiscal year.

The current year’s budget of $36.8 million allows spending up to $2.2 million from the fund balance if needed, although district officials hope they don’t have to tap into that savings.

“It’s a trend that can’t sustain itself,” Mr. Tooley said.

Superintendent Timothy M. Vernsey said, “I think that it’s a good thing to let people know that our fund balance is going down.”

Residents don’t want to see programs cut, “but we’re spending seven, eight hundred thousand dollars” per year in reserves, Mr. Vernsey said.

District Business Manager Jeffrey R. Swanson said the district is already seeing unexpected costs this year resulting from students with disabilities coming into the school and increased transportation costs.

“It’s going to be a very difficult year,” he said.

Mr. Tooley said it’s time to brace for next year’s budget.

“I’d like to ask the administration to try as quickly as possible to get us a feel for where we might stand, even at this early date, with regards to projected expense versus budget,” he said.

Remarking on the $768,646 the district had to take out of its fund balance in last year’s budget, Mr. Tooley said, “I don’t think we can wait until the next budget year to address that kind of budget impact.”

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