Panama Approves 2014-15 School Budget

PANAMA – Panama Central School District will not be increasing taxes this year.

At a recent meeting of the Board of Education, a proposed 2014-15 budget of $12,489,356 – boasting no increase to the district tax levy – was adopted.

The adopted budget works out to a 2.39 percent spending increase over the current 2013-14 budget of $12,198,067. Superintendent Bert Lictus said the budget is sound given the trying circumstances under which it was built.

“This is a tight budget, but I think it’s a pretty sound plan for this year,” Lictus said. “The administration and board worked very hard to be able to offer the community a sound educational plan for their students. And we made some hard choices to keep the tax levy where it was at.”

Lictus said the district was able to close its budget gap this year through a partial gap elimination adjustment restoration and by drawing money from its general fund. Despite the fact that this method successfully closed this year’s budget gap, Lictus said he was not confident the district could continue that trend in the near future.

“These are tough times, and I don’t know how long we’re going to be able to keep that up,” he said.

Lictus also reported that Panama received assistance from the state to offset next year’s $500,000 payment toward the nearly $5 million fine the district incurred through a paperwork error that occurred under a previous administration. He said the district is still working closely with the offices of state Assemblyman Andrew Goodell, R-Jamestown, and state Sen. Catharine Young, R-Olean, to reach a long-term solution to the issue.

Official approval of the Panama Central School budget will be determined by a community vote to be held May 20.