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Skaneateles school board adopts budget

The Skaneateles Board of Education adopted its 2013 to 2014 budget at its April 16 meeting.

The Skaneateles Board of Education adopted its 2013 to 2014 budget at its April 16 meeting.

The Skaneateles Board of Education voted to adopt its proposed budget for the 2013 to 2014 school year at its April 16 meeting.

The total budget will be $30.1 million, with a 4.98 percent increase in the tax levy and will be the subject of a public vote on May 21.

The district estimates that for a house assessed at $275,000 in Skaneateles, school taxes will increase by $148.50 under this budget. This figure is not final however, because the district does not yet know the final assessment values for each of the six towns in the district, Assistant Superintendent for Business and Finance Dale Bates said.

The tax rate will also be affected by the equalization rate for each municipality. The equalization rate is the comparison of a town’s assessment values to the market value for the purposes of school and other inter-municipal taxes. The equalization rate is determined by the New York State Office of Real Property Services.

According to state rules, the budget and tax levy totals are capped and only allowed to increase by around two percent each year, which is determined by the consumer price index, Bates said.

This year, the cap was about six percent for Skaneateles because the majority of cost increases came from rising costs for the teacher retirement plans and healthcare, factors that the district has no control over.

If the district were to exceed the state budget cap, the budget would require a supermajority vote (60 percent) rather than a simple majority due to the higher tax increase.

The board discussed, but rejected the idea to bond for the extra money needed for these benefit increases, at its April 9 meeting. Though Gov. Andrew Cuomo has suggested it as a way to keep taxes from going up, the district would be committed to more debt service for years to come, Bates said.

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