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Hammond Central School proposes 2 percent tax levy increase

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HAMMOND – Hammond Central School District officials will present voters with a 2012-2013 spending plan that calls for a 2 percent tax levy increase.

“We’re very fortunate to have been frugal over the years,” Superintendent Douglas H. McQueer said Monday. “We could have asked for more, but this 2 percent increase would give voters a break without having to make cuts.”

The total budget for the coming year is $6,609,307, which represents an increase of $84,491 over the 2011-2012 budget of $6,524,816. The tax levy will increase from this year’s $2,998,944 to $3,058,923.

The proposed tax rate will increase by 29 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value next year, bringing the district’s average tax rate to $15.19 per $1,000 of assessed property value. Mr. 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 contracted employee salaries and benefits,” he said.

The budget calls for use of $305,405 in appropriated fund balance to offset expenses, leaving $261,000 in reserve. Mr. McQueer said the use of fund balance allowed the district to avoid cutting positions.

Following the state aid runs reported at the end of March, the district reported that it would receive $2.9 million in state aid. According to Mr. McQueer, the district will receive $19,000 in addition to the $2.9 million, to be allocated as needed.

“Approximately, $18,000 of the $19,000 will be used to replenish the fund balance while about $1,000 will go to areas we fell short of in state funding, such as supplies and textbooks,” he said.

To balance future budgets, Mr. McQueer said the district is looking into other options such as shared services with other districts.

“We are always looking into ways we can share services. Right now we are sharing bus routes with Morristown, but I don’t know how many more options for sharing will be available in the future,” said Mr. McQueer.

The district will hold a public hearing on the budget May 1 at 7 p.m. at the school.

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