CARS HOMES JOBS

Saratoga Springs school budget would raise taxes 2.24%

Monday, April 14, 2014
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— Homeowners in the Saratoga Springs City School District would see a bump in taxes if voters approve the 2014-2015 budget next month.

The Board of Education adopted the $116.4 million spending plan, which increases spending by 3.41 percent over this year's budget. It raises the tax levy $1.67 million, or 2.24 percent more than this year's levy, which falls below the state-imposed tax cap.

The budget proposal doesn't result in layoffs or program reductions, said Kurt Jaeger, the district's assistant superintendent for business. He said the budget does shed some employees through attrition, but not in a way that should have any noticeable impact in throughout the district.

“We really tried to scrub through the numbers carefully so we could direct funds in places where they are needed,” he said Thursday.

If approved by voters on May 20, the budget would increase the tax levy from $74.7 million to $76.4 million. A homeowner with a house valued at $315,000 would see a roughly $85 tax increase.

Jaeger said the outlook was initially not as rosy. He said the process started this winter with the district facing a “modest shortfall” between estimated expenses and projected revenues.

But then health insurance costs came in lower than expected. The district also ended up with about $913,000 more in state aid than expected, allowing the district to raise taxes less and take less from the rainy day fund.

Jaeger said the district staying beneath the tax cap will mean homeowners could see a rebate from the state, if they registered for their basic STAR exemption.

When they go to the polls to decide on the budget, voters will also weigh in on whether to spend $6.4 million on capital improvement across the district. The biggest ticket item among the projects is a $2.59 million conversion of the heating systems from steam to hot water at Caroline Street Elementary School and Division Street Elementary School.

Other items include a replacement of the high school track, a resurfacing of the tennis courts, roof repairs at Dorothy Nolan Elementary School and Lake Avenue Elementary School, and building upgrades to security systems and wireless networks. Also, the project would add a generator to the Greenfield Elementary School and convert space at the high school into a modern instructional space.

If approved, the district would pay about $2 million of the cost through a capital reserve fund established several years ago. State aid would cover the other 70 percent of the project.

 
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