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Hammond C.S. seeks 4.3 percent tax levy increase

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HAMMOND - Hammond Central School District officials will present voters with a 2013-2014 spending plan that calls for a 4.3 percent tax levy increase.

The total budget for the coming year is 6,844,430, which represents an increase of $235,123 over the 2012-2013 budget of 6,609,307. The tax levy will increase from this year’s $3,058,923 to 3,191,010.

The proposed tax rate will increase between 55 and 99 cents per $1,000 assessed property value next year, bringing the district’s tax rates to $13.41 in Morristown, Hammond and Rossie, $14.27 in Alex Bay, and $23.95 in Macomb per $1,000 of assessed property value.

Superintendent Douglas H. McQueer said the spending plan represents a “natural” increase in expenditures. He said the overall increase is not the result of any new projects or expenses.

“Most of the increases in expenditures are the result of employee retirement and healthcare,” he said. “Healthcare went up to over 9 percent this year. Personnel costs run about two-thirds of the budget.” The budget calls for use of $313,500 in appropriated fund balance to offset expenses, leaving a remainder of $155,000 to $180,000, Mr. McQueer said.

“We’ve been lucky that we haven’t had to dip into our reserves,” he said. “But by next year, we may have to dip into them. Everything from fuel to energy costs are going up every year.”

Following the state aid runs reported at the end of March, the district reported that it would receive $3,290,012 in state aid.

“Ideally we would have liked to received $315,000 in aid to break even,” Mr. McQueer said. “But we were surprised to receive a $95,000 increase over last year’s $2.9 million.”

The district will hold an informational meeting for its budget at 7 p.m. May 14 at the school. The district’s budget vote is scheduled for May 21 at the school.

There will be no referendums on this year’s ballot, Mr. McQueer said. School Board member Bernard Martin is running for reelection to a five-year term unopposed.

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