School board continues budget discussions, recognizes students

— The Skaneateles school district 2012-13 budget proposal was discussed for nearly one hour at the March 20 board of education meeting, including a line item review of the current budget assumptions by Assistant Superintendent for Business and Finance Dale Bates.

The current budget estimate is $29.5 million, which is an approximately 1.7 percent increase over last year’s budget, and would amount to an approximately 2.78 percent projected tax levy increase for the district.

The projected budget increase is $484,000 but the projected revenue increase for the district is only $193,000, which means the district must reduce a little more than $290,000 from the budget through cuts.

In detailing aspects of the budget more specifically than he has been able in past board meetings, Bates said district costs in various fringe benefit areas, such as property and casualty insurance, and retirement and health benefits, have increased more than 3 percent, as has transportation costs due to the rising costs of fuel, while revenues have decreased nearly half a million dollars from county sales tax, state aid and federal jobs money.

Bates said the preliminary equalization rates for the five towns within the Skaneateles school district — Skaneateles, Spafford, Marcellus, Sennett, Niles and Owasco — that he announced to the board at the March 6 meeting currently remain the same. Under those numbers, the Spafford equalization rates are projected to increase from 109 percent last year to 115 percent this year, which would decrease Spafford’s tax rate by .68 percent, and thereby increase Skaneateles’ tax rate by 3.74 percent and the other towns in the school district by 5.8 percent.

The town of Owasco currently has a 90 percent equalization rate, and if that gets changed to 100 percent, which is possible, Bates said, the towns of Skaneateles, Marcellus, Sennett and Niles would see their tax rates increase even more.

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