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Voorheesville begins budget discussions

The Voorheesville board of education held a special session on Monday, Jan. 22, to begin public discussion on the preliminary stages of the proposed 2007-2008 budget.

The majority of the discussion focused on three aspects that made up approximately 22 percent of last year's budget: operations and maintenance, transportation, and debt service.

The specifics were outlined to the board and to those in attendance via a PowerPoint presentation given by Sarita Winchell, the district's assistant superintendent for business.

In the operations and maintenance budget, totaling about $1.43 million last year, Winchell said the issues that need to be addressed this year are equipment replacement including an energy-saving pool cover, utility costs and negotiated salary increases.

Other than the pool cover, equipment needs include a $20,000 ride-on mower, a $5,000 auto scrubber, a carpet extractor and a burnisher. Last year, equipment needs were only budgeted at $15,700, when the three years prior to that the average equipment budget was over $60,000. The pool cover itself cost $25,000, but Winchell said it is a sound investment.

This is a real money saver in the long run, she said.

In addition to conserving energy costs, the new pool cover will be able to be operated by fewer individuals. Winchell said this particular cover was selected because it balanced cost and ease of use.

"You want it easy enough so people will use it," said Winchell, "but you don't want it too high tech because it's cost-prohibitive."

Board president David Gibson and other board members said they would like to see more concrete numbers on cost effectiveness, long-term savings and life expectancy.

Utility costs are projected to go up in the upcoming year due in part to under-budgeted costs in 2006. The increases for natural gas, electric, water, telephone and sewer is expected to be $58, 920. Winchell said she hopes to avoid under-budgeting utilities in the future.

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