The Board of Education decided Wednesday to send a proposed budget to the voters that carries a 2.7 percent increase in the tax levy, but Superintendent Jack Whelan said the increase could be reduced to 2 percent.
He said the state Legislature’s budget projects a $160,000 aid loss for Johnstown schools.
“Sen. [Hugh] Farley’s office has assured us that’s an error,” Whelan said.
Still, using the conservative figure, the tax-levy increase in the proposed budget stands at 2.7 percent.
“We won’t know until we get the final figures from the state,” school board President John David Praught said.
Russ Martin, one of the eight board members present, voted against the budget.
“It’s gone up too much in the past several years that I’ve been on the board,” he said later.
Martin said teachers have to realize they can’t get a raise every year and called for general “belt tightening.”
“It just can’t keep going up this way. The taxpayers can’t afford it,” he said.
Praught said there are some aspects of the budget with which he’s not happy, noting that health insurance has gone up 70 percent in 10 years.
“These are costs that are out of our control,” Praught said.
Voters will weigh in on the budget and elect three Board of Education members on May 20.
The proposed budget is $29.06 million, up from the current $27.06 million.
Tax rates for the various municipalities won’t be available until later in the summer.
Also on Wednesday, school board members received an update on the district's capital improvement projects. Mike Croneiser, the clerk of the works for the school district’s capital project, summarized progress throughout the district.
“Everything is coming along pretty nice,” he said.
Work at Knox is almost done and the fieldhouse was opened for the first time for a baseball game last week, Croneiser said.
Paving projects are set for mid-May. The classroom addition is 95 percent complete, and work on the auditorium is progressing well.
“We had a job meeting yesterday. We expect at our May 20 job meeting to see where we are about turning the auditorium over,” he said.
The completion date is Aug. 25.
On another matter, Whelan said that since the district used only two of three scheduled snow days the district will be closed May 23.