ES-M BOE unveils proposed budget

By Kyle Austin

The East Syracuse-Minoa School Board unveiled a $68.2 million budget, along with a property tax increase, for the 2008-09 school year at its board meeting April 7.

The new budget includes a 5.1 percent increase in appropriations from last year's budget, an amount Executive Director of School Business Administration Sheila Tufankjian described as "a similar level to last year."

Tufankjian said she expressed faith in the proposed budget, particularly given the difficult economic times for the region.

"You know the challenges -- by reading the information in your packet -- that we had this year," Tufankjian said to the board members. "I'm very pleased with this plan."

To increase revenues to pay for the appropriations, the board is proposing a property tax increase of $1.93 per $1,000 of assessed value. If adopted, that would bring the rate up to about $45 for a $100,000 home, Tufankjian said.

That works out to about a 4.4 percent increase, slightly more than the 3.5 percent increased approved for the 2007-08 budget.

Board members will vote on whether or not to adopt the budget during its April 21 board meeting. If the budget is approved, it will be placed on the ballot for the May 20 election. There will also be a May 12 public hearing to discuss the proposed budget, at the ESM Central High School Library.

The May 22 vote will also be used to elect three people to fill the three seats being vacated by outgoing board members. Also on the ballot will be a proposal to fund a 10-year, $5 million capital campaign to improve facilities throughout the district.

The raises in property taxes come as a result of a drop-off in sales tax revenue, and the fact that the interest rate the school is making on its investments has been cut in half in recent years, from five percent to two-and-a-half percent.

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