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Benefit costs to see increase at Carthage Central in 2013-14

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GREAT BEND — Rapidly rising benefit costs are making Carthage Central School District officials uneasy.

During a 2013-14 debt service and benefit cost budget presentation at Monday’s Board of Education meeting, Business Manager Amy M. Marrocco predicted those items alone would cost the district $21.6 million.

“Almost half of the budget we have no impact over,” Ms. Marrocco said.

Benefit costs will make up the bulk of that cost. The costs jumped from this year’s $13.7 million to $15.3 million, nearly a $1.6 million difference.

Teacher retirement benefits will increase more than $1 million over the next year, from this year’s $2.2 million to next year’s $3.3 million.

Ms. Marrocco said if the teachers retirement benefits continue to rise at this rate for the next five years, the district may not have the money to hire teachers.

The costs also may have a short-term budget impact, but Ms. Marrocco won’t know that until all the budget numbers are laid out. Like other school district business managers around the state, she is waiting for Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s budget proposal.

“It’s hard to build a budget if you don’t know how much you’re working with,” she said.

Debt service costs are proposed to decrease more than $453,000, from this year’s $6.7 million to $6.3 million. Capital debt will tumble nearly $487,000 to about $4.5 million. Debt from prior bus purchases will decrease by nearly $34,000 to about $1.5 million, including interest.

Of the five bus bonds adding to the debt service, only one will be paid off by June 2014. The $1.3 million bond consists of 13 buses purchased in February 2009. Ms. Marrocco said more bus purchases are likely for the upcoming budget.

“Typically, one bond will fall off and one will join on, so we always have five on,” she said.

The maintenance and transportation budget will be discussed at the next Board of Education meeting Jan. 28.

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