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What you need to know for 08/23/2017

$79.6M Ballston Spa school budget meets tax cap

$79.6M Ballston Spa school budget meets tax cap

Ballston Spa school officials this year are proposing a budget that falls within the tax levy cap, a

Ballston Spa school officials this year are proposing a budget that falls within the tax levy cap, a year after voters agreed to allow the district to exceed the cap.

The Ballston Spa Central School District has pitched a $79.6 million 2013-14 spending plan, 4.2 percent higher than the current year’s $76.4 million budget.

A recent copy of the proposed budget is available on the Back to School blog.

Officials haven’t said exactly how much the property tax levy increase would be, but said it does fall within the state cap, which for Ballston Spa next year is 3.22 percent based on the state’s formula, district spokesman Stuart Williams said.

The Board of Education may vote tonight on the budget after Superintendent Joseph P. Dragone presents his final version. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. in the high school library.

April 17 is the last day the board could vote on the budget, which will go before voters May 21.

The spending proposal is a lot easier for officials to explain this year than it was last year, when the district reduced its tax levy but still exceeded the cap.

Because the state factored a $5.4 million payment in lieu of taxes from GlobalFoundries into the equation when the district was preparing its 2012-13 budget, the district would have needed to cut taxes at least 2.87 percent to meet the tax cap. Instead, it cut the levy only 0.4 percent, triggering a requirement that at least 60 percent of voters approve the proposed budget. Nearly 70 percent of voters supported the budget.

For the 2013-14 budget, most of the proposed increase comes from pension costs, health insurance, unemployment, worker’s compensation and debt service, Dragone told the board March 20. Pension costs will see the biggest jump, 28.5 percent, and health insurance premiums will rise 6.6 percent, Dragone said.

Outside of those costs, the instruction budget would rise 2.4 percent from this year and the general support budget by 1.9 percent. Transportation costs would go up 3.1 percent next year.

The board also is slated to vote on a transportation proposition that, if approved, would go to voters. The district would spend $886,706 on seven 66-passenger buses and four 29-passenger buses as part of its regular plan to renew the district fleet. State aid will cover 70 percent of the cost, Dragone said in his March 20 presentation, and there will be no tax impact from the purchase on voters next year.

Construction and renovation work continues at the district, where teachers will move into the new Gordon Creek Elementary School this summer; students will start the 2013-14 school year there.

Construction started in March 2012 on the $26.5 million building on the district’s Wood Road campus in Milton.

Gordon Creek was built to replace Milton Terrace South Elementary, which will be torn down after the district uses it as a temporary home next year for Malta Avenue Elementary students as their school in the village of Ballston Spa is renovated.

Also, work is planned this summer for the district office, Milton Terrace North’s west wing and the middle school’s east and west wings. That work will be finished by late August so as not to disrupt students, officials said.

Follow @GazetteED on Twitter for more education news.

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