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Decision No. 13,485

Appeal of JAMES P. BLIZZARD, from action of the Board of Education of the Livonia Central School District regarding the transfer of non-contingent funds.

Decision No. 13,485

(September 19, 1995)

Harris, Beach & Wilcox, Esqs., attorneys for respondent, James A. Spitz, Jr. and Laura M.

Purcell, Esq., of counsel

MILLS, Commissioner.--Petitioner appeals respondent's transfer of non-contingent funds to a contingent fund account. The appeal must be dismissed.

On May 11, 1994, the voters of the Livonia Central School District rejected the base budget for the 1994-95 school year proposed by the district's board of education ("respondent"), but approved a proposition for interscholastic sports in the amount of $58,591.00. On May 23, 1994, respondent adopted a contingency budget for the 1994-95 school year. On June 8, 1994, eight propositions were presented to the district voters, two of which were approved. Those propositions were for academic field trips and extracurricular activities.

On March 1, 1995, the district's superintendent froze expenditures for activities associated with the voter approved propositions, due to unanticipated and required budget expenditures in other areas. On March 9, 1995, petitioner requested that respondent reverse the superintendent's action. On March 16, 1995, respondent informed petitioner that it would not intervene. This appeal ensued. Petitioner's request for interim relief pending a determination on the merits was denied on April 26, 1995, as was his subsequent request for reconsideration.

Petitioner alleges that the transfer of funds from non-contingent to contingent accounts was inappropriate. Respondent contends that its actions were appropriate and permissible under applicable laws and regulations.

Petitioner relies on Leone v. Hunter, 21 Misc. 2d 750, 191 NYS2d 334 (1959) for the proposition that respondent's freezing of expenditures was inappropriate and respondent is obligated to spend the monies authorized by voters. Leone, however, is not relevant. In that case, the court found that a school district had no authority to create a planned balance of $75,000 to cover expenses at the beginning of the next fiscal year. Moreover, language in a proposition authorizing the expenditure of funds is permissive and does not require that the approved expenditures actually be made (Appeal of Behe, et al., 31 Ed Dept Rep 544).

In this case, respondent realized that certain required expenditures were higher than anticipated. In response, respondent froze non-contingent spending items. Under 8 NYCRR 170.2(l), respondent is required:

to make transfers between and within functional unit appropriations for teachers' salaries and ordinary contingent expenses. Boards of education may, by resolution, authorize the chief school officer to make transfers within limits as established by the board.

As respondent correctly points out, this regulation requires respondent to keep incurred obligations within the amount of total annual appropriations voted or authorized. Respondent's fund transfer was made to do precisely that for which the regulation calls.

I have reviewed the parties' remaining contentions and find them without merit.