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General Brown budget advisory committee to hear public’s input

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DEXTER — General Brown Central School District officials and board members will hear community input tonight on potential ways to proceed with its 2013-14 budget.

A budget advisory committee meeting will be held at 6 p.m. today in the auditorium of the junior-senior high school, 17643 Cemetery Road. Although some board members are expected to attend, it is not another Board of Education meeting with the full board.

The meeting was pushed back a couple of weeks to give district officials and the board time to mull over updated state aid information, but that has yet to come. Board members considered pushing back the meeting even further, until member Daniel J. Dupee II suggested during the board’s monthly meeting Monday to keep the budget advisory meeting to hear input from the public.

More than 200 people packed the junior-senior high school cafeteria during the Monday meeting, but they received little information about the budget, as Board President Tasha L. Richards said the process was still in its early stages.

Board members must work toward closing a $1.8 million gap. District officials have budget information available on their website, which explains the deficit has grown because of frozen state aid, contractual increases in salaries, rising pension and employee benefits, and the financial impact from the April 2012 bus garage fire.

During Monday’s meeting, board Vice President Jeffrey West said the board needs to hear more input from the public about ways to save and ways to cut. He also said the board needs to see “what everyone’s pain threshold is” for having to pay more for programs community members would like to see intact.

“We want the district here,” he said. “The last thing any of us want to do is cut jobs.”

Board members breezed through the majority of its agenda in the first 10 minutes of their meeting Monday, and spent more than 30 minutes discussing the budget process, before entering executive session to discuss a legal matter. No one spoke during public comment, as per the board’s policy of setting aside 30 minutes of public comment only during its first meeting of the month. Monday’s meeting was the board’s second meeting of the month.

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