FCSD budgeting with cautious optimism in lieu of state aid figures

By Colin Hogan

With roughly two-thirds of its budget provided through state aid, the Fulton City School District is left waiting for the New York state to finalize its own budget before it can really plan financially for the next school year.

“We’re at the point, still, of waiting for the state legislature and governor to come to agreement on the budget for the state, which would then direct education aid to school districts across the state,” Superintendent Bill Lynch told the school board Tuesday.

Right now, after completing a second preliminary budget draft without state figures, the district is looking at an estimated $69.2 million in expenditures for the 2015-16 school year — a 2.69 percent increase from this year’s projected operating costs of $67,357,685. Current estimates have the district receiving $43,350,051 in general state aid for the 2015-16 year — about a half-million more than it received last year. However, concrete figures won’t be available until after the state budget passes, the deadline for which is March 31.

The district hopes to use less from its reserves than it did last year. Early budget projections have it using $1.5 million of its fund balance, as opposed to last year’s $2 million. Lynch explained that it was the use of so much fund balance in last year’s budget that prompted the state comptroller’s office to give the district a “moderate” fiscal stress rating.

“That’s a figure ($1.5 million) we really need to find a way to live within, because last year we weren’t really able to replenish our reserves, which led to us being designated as under fiscal stress by the comptroller,” Lynch said.

In their current calculations, district officials are accounting for a 2 percent local tax levy increase, though Lynch told the board Tuesday the goal is to keep it less than that.

“Once we get our state aid that may be able to come down a little bit, and it would certainly not be any higher than that,” Lynch said. “We’re working to keep that down. We want to be sensitive to our local taxpayers and obviously the impact the draining local economy has had on them over the last six to seven years.”

Some on the board, however, felt 2 percent is still asking too much.

“I just don’t think the households in Fulton can afford a 2 percent increase,” said board member Christine Plath.”Again, we don’t know what the state aid is going to be, but I think maybe we need to start looking at some reductions because I don’t think Fulton can support this.”

Lynch mentioned that if reductions were to be made, the district would first look at areas that won’t cut jobs.

“If we have to make reductions, we are willing to look at areas where we can reduce our spending that don’t affect current staff,” Lynch said.

He noted, though, that there might be some retirements in grade levels that are staffed as such “that we could look at some consolidation,” and also said the district could look at ways of reducing its substitute teacher costs.

With those estimates in place, the district would still need to find another $1.4 million to meet its expenses. Lynch hopes that this will be achieved through additional state aid and changes to the district’s Gap Elimination Adjustment — two items state lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo are currently working out (see related article).

“Those two areas are primarily what we’re looking at to close that $1.4 million gap,” Lynch said. Lynch also said Tuesday that, based on the most recent budget status report, the district is on target to underspend by about $1.15 million during the current school year.

He said, at this point, anticipated revenues are expected to fall short by about $300,000, which would leave the district about $850,000 under budget by the end of the year, barring no major changes.

Phillip J. Segretto

Phillip J. Segretto, 78, of Oswego died Sunday March 22, 2015 in Seneca Hill Manor. He was born in Oswego the son of the late Phillip and Fannie (Sugar) Segretto. Phil worked at Breneman Shade Factory for many years, before driving taxi in Oswego. In addition to his parents Phil was predeceased by his siblings Peter, Michael Segretto, Dorothy Spataro , and grandson Jim Chvala. He is survived by four sons David (Joanie Abare) Chvala of Mansville, Dan (Robin) Chvala of Oswego, Richard (Donna) Chvala of South Carolina and Jim (Nancy) Chvala of Calif., and his brother Francis (Josephine) Segretto of Baldwinsville, nine grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Calling hours were Friday at the Sugar Scanlon Funeral Home 147 W. 4th. St. Oswego.

Deacon John Cretaro

Deacon John Theodore Cretaro died Wednesday, March 18, 2015, in Mobile, Ala. Born August 2, 1941 in Canastota, N.Y. to Theodore and Rose (Cordileone) Cretaro, he is survived by his wife, Jo Anne Cretaro of Mobile; sisters, Patricia (Charles) Branagh of Clay, N.Y., Mary Cretaro and a brother, Michael Cretaro, both of Canastota, N.Y.; cousins, nieces and nephews. A graduate of Canastota schools, he served in the U.S. Air Force, graduated from the St. Phillip Neri Latin-Greek Seminary, Haverhill, Mass., and was affiliated with the Capuchin Friars of New York. He was a lay missionary for three years in Zaire, Africa and later, with his wife, served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Congo-Zaire, Africa. He received his B.S. in Industrial Arts and M.A. in Psychological Counseling in Human Services from the State University of New York, Oswego. In 1980, he was ordained a Permanent Deacon for the Diocese of Syracuse. In 2003, after 26 years serving the poorest of Oswego County, he retired to Mobile to continue as a Permanent Deacon in the service of the Archdiocese of Mobile assigned to the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and resident chaplain at the Cathedral Place Apartments. He was also a 4th degree member of the Knights of Columbus. A private burial was held in Catholic Cemetery in Mobile. A funeral Mass was celebrated at the chapel of the Little Sisters of the Poor Sacred Heart Residence in Mobile on Saturday, March 21, 2015. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial donations be made to the Mobile Archdiocese or the Little Sisters of the Poor. Condolences may be offered at www.radneyfuneralhome-mobile.com.

Newell Fred Stauring

Stauring, NewellNewell F. Stauring, 88, of Fulton, passed away on Monday, March 23, 2015 at Crouse-Irving Hospital. He was born on October 23, 1926, in Fulton, a son to the late William H. and Ida L. Whiting Stauring. Newell graduated from Fulton High School in 1943. He retired from Sealright in Fulton after 45 years. Newell enjoyed camping and hunting. Along with his parents he was predeceased by his wife, Virginia in 2008, five brothers, Howard, Ernest, John, George and William and five sisters, Marie, Maude, Fairy, Esther and Thelma. He will be greatly missed and forever loved by his four children, Newell B. Stauring of Camden, Christine (Stephen) Harris of Parish, Pamela (Len Collins) Pickard of Fulton and Rebecca Kinney of Fulton; eight grandchildren; 14 great-grandchildren as well as several nieces and nephews. Calling hours and a servcice were held Thursday at Foster Funeral Home, 910 Fay St., Fulton. Burial will be in Mount Adnah Cemetery.

Ruth Benway

Benway, RuthRuth Benway of Fulton, passed away Sunday, March 22 at Oswego Hospital following a brief illness. She was born in Fulton, the youngest child to the late, Joseph and Anna Simon. Ruth retired from Syroco after 19 years of service and had previously worked at the Nestle Company for several years. Ruth was a communicant of the former Holy Family Church. She volunteered at Lee Memorial Hospital and was a member of Aurora of CNY. In addition to her parents, Ruth was predeceased by her husband, Raymond W. Benway; two brothers and four sisters. She is survived by her daughters, Linda Benway, Cathy (Terry) Alford and Karen (Phil) MacEwen; five grandchildren, Christopher, Katie, Amber, Corinne and Julia; nine great grandchildren as well as several nieces and nephews. Calling hours and a service were held Friday, March 26 at Foster Funeral Home, 910 Fay St., Fulton. Burial will take place at a later date in St. Mary’s Cemetery, Fulton. Contributions in memory of Mrs. Benway may be made to Aurora of CNY, Inc., 518 James St., Suite 100, Syracuse, NY 13203.

Frederick R. McCarthy, Sr.

Frederick R. McCarthy, Sr., 80, of Fulton, beloved husband, father and grandfather, died March 24, 2015 at James Square Nursing Home in Syracuse where he had been a resident for the past seven months. Born December 28, 1934 in Fulton, he was the son of Philip Sheridan McCarthy and Anna Muncy McCarthy. He attended Catholic grade school and graduated from Fulton High School in 1952. Mac served with the U.S. Army during the Korean conflict and joined the New York State Police on August 1, 1957, initially serving as a uniformed trooper and later was promoted to investigator with the Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Troop D, Oneida. He retired in 1981 to go to work for Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation first as head of security at the Oswego steam plant and later as security supervisor at Nine Mile Point nuclear facility. Mac loved his dogs and horses as well as hunting, fishing and politics. He enjoyed telling stories of his years in the state police which included foot patrol at Sylvan Beach and the midway at the NY State Fair. He was chosen to guard Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev when he visited Hyde Park in 1951; he was at the Rochester riots in 1964 and the aftermath of Attica Prison riot in 1971. Mac was a member of the New York State Retired Troopers Association and Oswego County Lodge Fraternal Order of Police as well as Hannibal Post American Legion. He was predeceased by a brother, Philip McCarthy and sisters, Mary Jane McCarthy, Gertrude Cealie and Ellen Fones. Mac is survived by his wife of 38 years, Judith T. McCarthy; six children, Dennis (Donna) McCarthy of Solvay, Fred, Jr. (Jennifer) McCarthy of Town of Scott, Sam (Kathy) Gerbig of Oswego, Michael McCarthy of Clay, Sally McCarthy (Rick Schram) of Atlanta and Amanda (Nathan) Mountain of Syracuse; one sister, Patricia (James) Simpson of Fulton; grandchildren, Frederick III (Lauren) McCarthy of Charleston, SC, Daniel McCarthy of Baldwinsville, Brandon McCarthy of North Syracuse, Noah and Taylor Gerbig of Wareham, Mass., McCarthy Jane Mountain and Aidan Alexandra Mountain of Syracuse, Trey Glover of John’s Island, S.C., James Ouderkirk and JoAnne Crimmins of Oswego. Calling hours were Friday, March 27 at Foster Funeral Home, 910 Fay Street, Fulton. Funeral services will be 11 a.m. Saturday, March 28 at the Fulton First United Methodist Church, 1408 State Route 176, Fulton. Donations may be made to the Salvation Army, 62 South First Street, Fulton, NY, 13069.

Catherine  Mills

Catherine Mills OBCatherine  Mills, 59, of Pennellville, N.Y., passed away on Friday, March 20 at the VA Medical Center, Syracuse, N.Y. Born in Greenock, Scotland to her late parents, Catherine (Orr) Milligan and William Milligan on May 8, 1955, she was a homemaker. A Member of H. F. American Legion Post 418, Phoenix. She was predeceased by her husband George M. Mills, Sr.; her son George M. Mills, Jr.; and a brother, George Milligan. Surviving are her son and his wife, William J. and Stacey Mills of Hannibal; one grandson, Austin Mills; her brothers and sisters, Andrew (Margaret) Milligan, William Milligan, May (Jim) Dykes, Anthony Milligan, and Isobel Milligan Malone all of Greenock, Scotland; several nieces, nephews, and cousins. A memorial service was held Friday, March 27 in the American Legion Post 418 in Phoenix, N.Y.  A spring burial will occur on a week day at a later date in Pennellville Cemetery, Schroeppel.

Dennis W. Norton

Norton, DennisDennis W. Norton, 70, of Volney, passed away on Tuesday, March 24 at University Hospital in Syracuse. A native of Fulton, he was the son of the late Earl and Dorothy Reeves Norton and was a life resident of the Volney area. Dennis retired in 1999 as maintenance supervisor at Oswego County Department of Social Services in Mexico and he had previously worked for over 25 years as maintenance supervisor at Pathfinder Courts in Fulton. He served in the U.S. Air Force. Dennis was an active member and trustee of Mt. Pleasant United Methodist Church in Volney. He enjoyed his Harley Davidson motorcycles and was a founding member of the local Harley Davidson Dressers of America Association. Dennis was well known for his handyman “fix it” ability and was often seen helping and delivering for his daughter’s floral shop, DeVine Designs. Surviving are his wife of 49 years, Rita Mouchka Norton of Volney; two daughters, Teresa (Roy) Poudrier and Gail (Ernie Brown) Norton all of Fulton; two grandchildren, Jonathon Beeles of Oswego and Jamie Beeles of Fulton; two brothers, Earl Norton of Hannibal and Gordon Norton of Fulton; several nieces and nephews. Calling hours are 4 to 7 p.m. Monday, March 30 at Foster Funeral Home, 910 Fay Street, Fulton with services 11 a.m. Tuesday, March 31 at Mt. Pleasant United Methodist Church, County Route 45, Volney. Burial with military honors will be in the spring. Memorial contributions may be made to Mt. Pleasant United Methodist Church or to the Salvation Army of Fulton.

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