What happens to Chenango Forks without a merger?

By Jillian Marshall

November 15, 2013 Updated Nov 15, 2013 at 11:42 AM EDT

Town of Chenango, NY (WBNG Binghamton) The merger of Chenango Forks and Chenango Valley depends on how residents cast their ballots in two weeks.

On Thursday night, members of the Chenango Forks Board of Education gave residents a look at the future finances if their district didn't merge.

The finances report, delivered by Kathy Blackman from BOCES, showed the community what would happen without a merger.

Blackman said long-term projections show the district will steadily reduce their bottom line and lose even more money by 2017.

Blackman says unless the district overcomes their financial issues -- which is now a $50,000 gap -- Forks schools would have to cut athletics, AP courses, electives and more just to stay afloat.

Blackman cited a decline in enrollment for the gap the district is facing, while some school board members blamed the state, saying the district was severely impacted when New York reduced state aid.

"They're kind of screwing us, and it would be really nice if they kind of saved our schools since they put us in this position," said school board member Spyros Dimatos.

Regardless of a merger, CF taxpayers are facing a potential tax increase.

If the merger moves forward, residents in that district would likely see an average annual tax increase of nearly $300. Without the merger, the district would need a 12.5-percent tax levy increase, which would also raise taxes by nearly $300, Blackman said.

Parents, many of whom declined to appear on camera, said they are against the merger.

They said the district should wait on the state to pass the New York State Gap Elimination Adjustment, which would require a super majority vote from the residents to increase any future tax levy.

The New York State Gap Elimination Adjustment hit the Assembly in June 2013.

"The small snap shot of the people who have talked to me and see this say, hey we'll support you with the super majority, save our schools," Dimatos said. "But the reality is, and that's what scares me is that school districts that go out for super majority, only about 20 percent get it."

CF's Board President Don Edwards said both CF and CV are constantly facing deficit.

The straw vote, which is for all residents in Chenango Valley and Chenango Forks, is Dec. 3.