Voters OK $13.2M for schools

V oters in the Whitehall Central School district approved the 2012-13 budget on Monday night.

Tuesday’s final tally saw 190 residents vote in favor of the $13.2 million budget, while 25 voted against the spending plan.

Voters also elected Jim Brooks to the Board of Education.

Brooks ran unopposed and will begin serving a five-year term next month.

He received 125 votes.

Who will fill the two remaining spots on the board has yet to be determined.

Brooks was the only candidate to file a petition to run and it was expected the board would address the remaining vacancies at its organizational meeting next month.

But James Watson, the Whitehall Central School superintendent, said there were approximately 50 ballots that had write-in votes for six or seven different candidates.

He said officials were going to review those ballots on Wednesday and determine if those candidates actually have interest in serving.

If they do, they will be named to the board.

The write-in candidate that receives the most votes would serve a five-year term. The candidate with the second-most votes would serve the remaining four years of a five-year term vacated by George Armstrong earlier this year after he was sworn in as town supervisor.

If it turns out none of the write-in candidates are interested in serving, the board will examine on how to fill those vacancies next month.

 

Budget numbers

The Board of Education presented voters with a $13.2 million spending plan that will result in a tax levy increase of 1.98 percent, just below the 2 percent statewide tax cap which was passed last year.

The budget is $257,963, or 1.92 percent less than the 2011-12 budget, but a reduction in revenues and an increase in the cost of employee benefits resulted in administrators raising the tax levy by $97,406.

The district was forced to eliminate seven positions and reduce eight full-time positions to part-time in response to a $1.2 million reduction in state aid.

The cuts saved the district $589,380, but the cost of employee benefits still increased by $59,000, or 1.5 percent.

The district also used $300,000 from its appropriated fund balance, the same amount it used last year, to help bridge the gap.

The total amount of money raised by taxes is expected to be $5,017,718 and officials estimate the tax rate will be $9.74 per $1,000 of assessed value of a property, an increase of 20 cents compared to last year.

Rates are higher in Dresden, where the tax rate is expected to be $22.53 per $1,000 of assessed value, an increase of 34 cents compared to last year.

The equalization rate in Dresden for 2011-12 was just over 43 percent.

Final tax rates are unavailable until August when town equalization rates and assessment figures are finalized by the state.

A proposition to purchase a 66-passenger school bus that was on Tuesday’s ballot was approved by a 153 to 35 margin.

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