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Parishville-Hopkinton board of education adopts budget with 3.9 percent levy increase

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PARISHVILLE - When voters in the Parisvhille-Hopkinton Central School District head to the polls next month, they’ll be voting on a budget with a proposed tax levy increase of 3.98 percent.

Superintendent Darin P. Saiff said the increase of $142,487 in the tax levy was equal to the district’s maximum allowable levy of $3,443,413.

That levy, Mr. Saiff said, will support a total budget of $10,446,117 a 2.48 percent or $252,898 increase over this year’s spending plan.

Mr. Saiff the budget does cut one position, however, that reduction was due to staffing needs for next year and not the district’s financial status.

“We did have one cut position, but that was a needs based cut and it’s for a teaching assistant,” he said, explaining a special education student who was being served by that assistant has moved out of the district.

Overall Mr. Saiff said the budget included $104,027 in cuts, with the majority coming by reducing the amount budgeted for utilities.

“We always budget utilities carefully in case of an extremely bad winter, but after the winter we had this year, we felt we could reduce that area,” Mr. Saiff said.

Some of the budget’s largest increases came in the form of $84,215 for health insurance benefits, $62,262 for teacher pension contributions and $92,000 in special education expenses due to a high needs student moving into the district.

“Those three increases alone are $238,477 and our total increase was only $253,898,” Mr. Saiff said.

To help support the budget, Mr. Saiff said the district will be using roughly $1 million in fund balance and $190,000 in reserves to help balance the budget. Mr. Saiff said this is an increase of $90,206 in fund balance over what the district budgeted for this year.

“We started with a significant budget gap at the beginning of the budget season and as it stands we will still cut $104,000,” he said. “We will have to appropriate an additional $90,000 in fund balance and ask our community to support a budget that’s at the tax levy limit.”

When asked if he felt comfortable increasing the amount of fund balance used by more than $90,000, Mr. Saiff replied, that he didn’t know what else to do.

“I’m not really sure what else we could have done at this point,” Mr. Saiff said.

One bright spot for the district was an increase of $152,000 in funding in the state’s final budget from what Governor Andre M. Cuomo’s original proposal offered.

“Thankfully the legislature was successful in restoring some aid,” Mr. Saiff said.

The district’s current tax rate for Parishville residents is $220.94 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, $13.67 for Hopkinton and Potsdam residents and $14.86 for residents of Stockholm. The range in rates is due to 2013 equalization rates within the district that range from 5.6 percent for Parishville to 100 percent for Hopkinton and Potsdam. Stockholm’s equalization rate was 92 percent.

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