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South Jefferson approves school budget with 2.68% levy increase

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ADAMS CENTER — The South Jefferson Central School Board of Education has adopted a 2014-15 budget that increases the tax levy 2.68 percent.

The budget, approved Monday night, sets next year’s spending at $30,430,936, an increase of $1,218,797 over the current year’s budget. The levy, or amount to be raised by taxes, will be $6,948,031.

District Business Manager Angela S. Norris said school officials decided to increase the levy by less than the maximum allowable, which would have been 7.14 percent.

The tax rate that residents will pay has not been established. The adopted budget is subject to public approval in a vote scheduled for May 20.

Ms. Norris said that thanks to state lawmakers’ $498,000 increase in aid over the governor’s proposed budget, the district will add two elementary teaching positions, allocate $100,000 to the fund balance and avoid cuts. “We are going to be able to maintain all programs,” she said.

Most of the budget will be spent on salaries and pensions, Ms. Norris said.

Superintendent Jamie A. Moesel said if the district had not received the additional funding from the state Legislature, the board would have had to make different choices.

“We were really blessed, honestly, to not have to take from the fund balance,” Mrs. Moesel said.

With this budget, the district is on its way to meeting the qualifications for the property tax freeze proposed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. In year one, the state will provide tax rebates to homeowners who live in a jurisdiction that stays within the property tax cap. In year two, the state will provide tax rebates only to homeowners who live in a locality that stays within the cap and agrees to implement a shared services or administrative consolidation plan.

“The first year we have to stay below our cap. We are doing that,” Mrs. Moesel said. “The second year it’s going to become more complicated.”

One of the challenges for the South Jefferson district is that the district hosts students from 10 towns, she said.

“With 10 different towns in our district, it is going to be a complicated process, at least for year one. We are doing what we’re supposed to,” Mrs. Moesel said.

The budget will be presented at a hearing May 12 before the public vote May 20.

To learn more about the budget, visit the district website, www.spartanpride.org.

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