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Wed., Sep. 17
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Serving the communities of Massena and Potsdam, New York

Potsdam school board adopts budget with 2.9 percent tax levy increase

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POTSDAM - When voters in the Potsdam Central School Dstrict head to the polls next month, they will be voting on a budget that presents them with a 2.9 percent tax levy increase that fulls under the district’s tax cap limit of 3.09 percent.

The $28,196,659 spending plan was adopted by the board this week. The spending plan also includes a tax levy of $12,188,521, a $344,152 increase over the current year’s levy.

“It’s always a major process for us to put together a spending plan,” Superintendent Patrick H. Brady said, adding the 2014-2015 budget was finalized without cutting any positions or staffing.

“We strived from the beginning not to make any cuts this year, and we have achieved that,” he said.

In fact, Mr. Brady said the 2014-2015 spending plan even includes the restoration of some items that had been previously cut, including one elementary teacher, a guidance counselor, the district’s summer reading program, a math coach and a bus monitor. Other additions include a part-time custodian for the for the former Building Blocks Day Care building and the conversion of five teachers aides to teaching assistants.

Board of education member Frederick C. Stone Jr. said this year’s budget process has been the easiest one in recent memory.

“I think this has been the least contentious budget in six years,” Mr. Stone said.

Fellow board of education member Wade A. Davis agreed.

“I think there was a proper use of fund balance,” he said. “It helps keep the taxes down. We couldn’t have asked for anything better.”

Mr. Brady said the proposal uses $2.1 million in fund balance and reserves, an increase of $491,000 from what was used in this year’s spending plan.

Should that money be spent, Mr. Brady said the district would be left with $3,458,256 in fund balance and reserves at the close of the 2014-2015 fiscal year.

While a final tax rate will not be calculated until this summer after the property tax rolls are finalized, Business Manager Laura Hart estimated the rate would increase 66 cents from $22.74 to $23.40 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. Ms. Hart also noted that often times the final tax rate ends up being less than projected, as was the case in three of the past four years.

Using the estimated rate though, Ms. Hart noted the owner of a $100,000 home with a basic STAR exemption would see their tax bill increase $52. The owner of that same home with an enhanced (or senior STAR) exemption would see an increase in their tax bill of $38.

The budget was adopted with eight yes votes. Ralph L. Fuller not present.

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