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Hermon-DeKalb school budget calls for 3.48 percent tax levy increase

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DEKALB JUNCTION - Voters in the Hermon-DeKalb Central School District will be asked to approve a $9,046,426 budget that would increase the school tax levy by 3.48 percent next school year.

When they head to the polls May 21, district residents will also select two candidates from a field of three to fill open school board seats.

Earlier this week, the board adopted the 2013-14 spending plan and agreed to make roughly $280,000 worth of spending cuts.

The $9,046,426 proposed budget is $54,078 lower than this year’s $9,100,504 budget, a 0.59 percent decrease.

Despite the lower budget, School Superintendent Ann M. Adams said the tax levy is increasing because the district does not have as much money available to “roll over” next year.

In this year’s budget, $1,086,248 was applied to offset property taxes, compared to $657,312 that’s been allocated for the 2013-14 spending plan.

“This is local money that’s on hand,” Ms. Adams said. “This is our projection of what we will have at the end of the year to roll over.”

The district’s state aid revenue is projected to increase from this year’s roughly $5.8 million to approximately $6.1 million next year.

The state tax cap would have allowed the district to increase the tax levy by 6.11 percent, but the board decided to keep the tax levy increase below that limit.

The board agreed to several cuts including two teaching positions through attrition, a half-time art teacher who works for St. Lawrence-Lewis Board of Cooperative Educational Services and a .4 speech therapist position.

A full-time custodial job will be eliminated through retirement.

Savings will also be achieved by cutting .1 of a bus mechanic, the portion of library books not covered by state funding, and eliminating the purchase of a partition door for the gymnasium.

The district will no longer provide free milk for snack time for grades pre-kindergarten, kindergarten and first grade. Also, graduating high school seniors will have to purchase their own caps and gowns starting next school year.

In the school board election, incumbent Crystal Simmons is running for re-election along with newcomers Raeleen Willard and Jill Davis. Incumbent Robert Hance is not running for another term. Both seats carry five-year terms.

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