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Colton-Pierrepont Central School voters to weight in on $10.2 million budget

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COLTON — Colton-Pierrepont Central School officials approved a $10,280,000 spending plan for the 2014-15 school year, and district voters will weigh in May 20.

A public hearing on the proposed budget is set for May 14.

The projected tax levy increase is $60,000, or 0.85 percent, which falls below the tax cap. The increase would bring the total tax levy, or amount to be raised by taxes, to $7,120,000.

In a budget report to be sent out to residents, Superintendent Joseph A. Kardash said the process of crunching numbers to make budget items fall into place has been arduous.

“State aid has not been growing over the years,” he said. “Actually, we received slightly more state aid in 2006-07 than we do now. In that same time, the cost of health insurance has risen 46 percent. The cost of retirement benefits have more than doubled. Everyone knows what has happened to the cost of fuel and supplies over those past eight years.”

The budget calls for the use of $650,000 in appropriated fund balance and $2,490,000 total in state aid. The state aid is up from $2,350,000 in the 2013-14 school year.

“These growing expenses and limited revenues certainly are cause for concern,” Mr. Kardash said. “This problem is compounded by a tax cap that restricts our increase to 0.85 percent this year. The situation has forced us to increase our appropriated fund balance to cover the difference in hopes that aid will be restored in future years.”

The district’s budget for the 2013-14 school year is $9,840,000; the proposed budget hikes spending 4.47 percent.

In August, the town of Colton and Brookfield Power reached a settlement on the assessed values of six Erie Boulevard Hydropower-owned properties in the hamlet. There will be a $30 million drop in the assessment on Brookfield’s hydroelectric facilities in the town of Colton and the first reassessment in the town in more than four decades. This will mean higher taxes for most residential property owners.

Mr. Kardash is optimistic that the settlement won’t affect the district’s community support.

“We know the Brookfield settlement had a significant impact on our taxpayers,” he said. “We are confident that the public understands the tax rate increases were not a result of any action by the school district and that we are doing our best to mitigate the situation with a minimal tax levy increase of 0.85 percent. With that in mind, we hope the settlement does not erode the support Colton-Pierrepont Central School District has had from our community.”

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