Schenectady County

$45M Mohon budget would hike tax levy 3.95%

Voters in the Mohonasen Central School District will get to decide on a $45.4 million budget May 21.

Voters in the Mohonasen Central School District will get to decide on a $45.4 million budget May 21.

The proposed spending plan increases the tax levy by 3.95 percent, which is below the district’s limit of 4.21 percent, so only a simple majority, 50 percent plus one vote, is needed for passage. The tax cap is calculated by a formula that varies by school district based on growth, payments in lieu of taxes and other factors.

Total spending is increasing by $1.3 million from the 2012-2013 budget. Rotterdam homeowners with an average assessment of $150,000 would see their school tax bill increase by about $94 a year to $2,478.

Voting will be from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the high school gymnasium.

For the first time in four years, the district does not have to cut any staff positions because it is using a variety of grants to fund portions of the budget.

Last year, Mohonasen received a School District Performance Improvement grant from the state for its success in raising student achievement — about $600,000 a year for three years — and a three-year, roughly $1.8 million federal grant for physical education programs in 2011. The district also received a slight bump in state aid.

All existing programs are maintained. Among the budget reductions are one section of sixth grade and the junior varsity golf team. The district plans to do more maintenance in-house and will reduce its spending on equipment and technology.

The budget taps $1.1 million from surplus, which is slightly less than the $1.2 million it used in this year’s budget. District officials are trying to wean themselves off using so much of the reserve funds, especially since the grant funding will last only a few years. About five years ago, the district was using about $300,000 a year in surplus, according to Superintendent Kathleen Spring.

Board candidates

Two candidates are seeking two, three-year seats on the Board of Education.

President Dominic Cafarelli is seeking re-election to his third term. He is the owner and operator of Dom’s Barber Shop. He also serves as president of the Rotterdam Grizzlies basketball teams for Mohonasen boys and girls and is a member of the Rotterdam Elks and Sons of Italy. He said in a news release that he is pleased to serve on the board at a time when district test scores have increased and new academic programs are introduced, while providing fiscally responsible budgets.

He and his wife, Lucia, have three children.

Bob Piccirillo is seeking his first term. He works as a manager of information technology for the New York State Retirement Division of the Office of the State Comptroller. He is a retired lieutenant colonel in the Army and Army Reserve and an Iraq War veteran. He is also involved as a water safety instructor for the Mohonasen Learn to Swim Program and a swimming instructor for the Mohonasen Marlins swim club.

Current board member Mark Sabatini is not seeking re-election to a second term.

Also on the ballot will be a proposition to purchase four 66-passenger buses at a cost of $460,000. State aid would pick up roughly 70 percent of the cost, leaving the district share at about $130,000.

A budget forum and meet the candidates night will be held at 6 p.m. May 13 in the high school’s Farnsworth Technology Center.

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