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Shen keeps tax hike under 4 percent

Shen keeps tax hike under 4 percent

Shenendehowa Central School District Board of Education members achieved their goal Tuesday night

Shenendehowa Central School District Board of Education members achieved their goal Tuesday night of passing a 2008-09 district budget that increases tax rates for residents by less than 4 percent over the current rate.

Clifton Park homeowners with an average assessed property value of $143,919 will receive a tax bill of $4,061, or $145 more than last year. The seven-member school board voted to approve a reconfigured spending plan of $146.1 million, which carries a tax increase to residents of 3.69 percent, and is lower than last year’s tax increase of 3.85 percent. Eleventh-hour changes in the budget, which in its original form imposed a tax hike of 5.1 percent, included good news regarding state aid, with an additional $648,000 tacked on to the total $2.34 million in aid for BOCES programs.

With property assessment valuations not being completed until July or August, district officials erred on the side of caution when calculating revenues. “We used a very conservative model,” said District Superintendent of Schools L. Oliver Robinson. “We expect Clifton Park property valuations to remain fairly flat, but in Halfmoon, there may be some growth.” District officials are also keeping an eye on how numbers on both sides of the coin could fluctuate in months ahead.

“We’ll continually monitor expenditures with monthly appropriation updates for the board,” Robinson said. “We’ll know day to day if we need to make critical decisions to put in stopgaps or slowdowns in spending.”

The 2008-09 budget safeguards districtwide priorities, including the continuation of a multiyear textbook purchase plan, providing additional nursing and athletic training staff to cover sports venues and field trips, supporting a multiyear phase-in of a freshman seminar to help students adust to ninth grade, and initiating a Math-Science-Technology Academy in each curriculum area.

Board members admitted the work needed to produce a budget was grueling.

“I’ve never scrutinized a budget as much as this one, because we all feel it; we feel the rising costs at the grocery store, the gas pumps. People everywhere whisper about recession,” said Janet Grey, board vice president. “I felt compelled to work on this; there’s not any fat in this budget.”

Board members approved the budget Tuesday night in keeping with education laws requiring such action 45 days in advance of the public vote, which is set for May 20.

There will be one additional public hearing on May 6.

Projected Tax Impact of 2008-09 budget:

Town Assessment Tax bill Increase

Clifton Park $143,919 $4,061 $145

Halfmoon $145,567 $3,965 $141

Malta $125,585 $2,544 $91

Waterford $50,014 $2,359 $84

Ballston $196,208 $3,523 $126

Stillwater $114,225 $1,941 $69

Source: Shenendehowa Central School District

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