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Copenhagen school budget to raise levy by 2.9 percent

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COPENHAGEN — The Copenhagen Central School District’s tentative budget would increase the tax levy by 2.9 percent for the third straight year while continuing to dip into district reserves, although not to its current extent.

“We can’t continue to sustain that pace for very long, but I don’t want to cut staff,” district Superintendent Scott N. Connell said. “At this point, if we cut, we are cutting into some very important things.”

The proposed budget would use $700,665 from the fund balance to keep taxes down. That figure is $99,591 lower than the $800,256 in 2013-14’s budget. District officials project that their unrestricted fund balance will drop from just over $1 million to about $715,000 over the next year.

Spending in the tentative budget is $10,474,715, up $241,109 from this year’s $10,233,606. That is a 2.4 percent increase.

The proposed tax levy, or amount to be raised by property taxes, is $1,620,028, up $45,675 from this year’s $1,574,371. Final tax rates will not be available until the town’s tax rolls are completed in August.

The 2.9 percent tax levy increase is below the district’s 3.77 percent maximum allowable increase under state tax cap legislation, district officials said.

State aid is projected to rise by $330,493, from $7,446,329 this year to $7,776,882 in 2014-15.

Employee salaries will increase by $185,696 to $3.93 million, while employee benefits will climb by $91,397 to $2.46 million.

A librarian who also teaches technology half time will be returned to full-time librarian status. “We’re doing a lot of shuffling within,” Mr. Connell said.

The annual budget vote will take place from noon to 8 p.m. May 20 in the gymnasium lobby.

District residents are asked to support the continued busing of children to Lowville Head Start on existing routes and the purchase of two 60-passenger buses for up to $217,000.

Board of education member Koreen G. Freeman and newcomer Keith Lee are running unopposed for five-year board seats.

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