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Hermon-DeKalb budget calls for 4.11 percent tax hike

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DEKALB JUNCTION — A proposed 2014-15 Hermon-DeKalb Central School budget increases the school tax levy by 4.11 percent next year.

The $9,275,471 spending plan calls for hiking the tax levy from $2,316,971 to $2,412,231. The tax levy is the amount of revenue collected from property owners within the district. The 4.11 percent hike is within the state’s tax cap limit.

School Superintendent Ann M. Adams described the budget plan as a “solid, no-frills educational program.”

“As a board, we have tried to maintain a reasonable spending plan while trying to maintain quality programs for children,” Ms. Adams said.

The budget foretells a 2.53 percent spending hike — a $95,260 increase — over the current year’s outlays of $9,046,426.

If voters approve the plan, the tax rate is expected to increase from $16.76 per $1,000 of assessed property valuation to $17.45 this year.

To illustrate the tax hike’s impact, Ms. Adams said taxes for a home assessed at $60,000 that receives the Basic STAR exemption would increase by $43.35, going from $442.64 to $485.99 next year.

The board adopted the budget unanimously on April 7. A public hearing on the budget is scheduled for 7 p.m. May 12 in the district’s library. Voters head to the polls from 1 to 9 p.m. May 20 to vote on the budget and fill two open school board seats. Incumbents Ronald Smith and Richard Hamilton are running unopposed for re-election to five-year terms.

A separate proposition to purchase a full-sized bus costing $122,000 or less also will be on the ballot.

Further state aid added to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s proposed budget allows the district to add library aid and purchase new sports uniforms, Ms. Adams said.

The district is slated to receive $6,133,150 in state aid, $61,007 more than this year, a 1 percent hike. The amount is still lower than what it received in the 2008-09 school year.

“The fact that state aid for education does not meet the local needs is the cause for many of the rising costs of education falling increasingly on the local school districts,” Ms. Adams said.

Next year the district plans to allocate $705,090 from the unreserved fund balance to the operating budget. This compares with $632,121 in this year’s budget.

Funding for universal pre-kindergarten likewise is available.

Through federal aid, the district will continue to receive Title I funding and money for special education.

The district continues to contract for St. Lawrence-Lewis Board of Cooperative Educational Services for several programs. The district is reimbursed 80 percent for most of those costs through state aid.

Besides the May budget hearing, the district also has scheduled a community forum at 7 p.m. April 30 at the school. Discussion will include a summary of the community committee’s discussions, budget highlights, the Booster Club, Northern New York Foundation functions and future priorities.

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