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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 tax levy by 3.48 percent next school year.

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

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

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

Despite the lower budget, 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 with the $657,312 that has 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 figure.

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 0.4 speech therapist position.

A full-time custodial job will be eliminated through retirement. Savings also will be achieved by cutting 0.1 of a bus mechanic and the portion of library books not covered by state funding, and eliminating the purchase of a partition door for the gymnasium.

The district no longer will provide free milk for snack time in prekindergarten, kindergarten and first grade.

Also, graduating seniors will have to purchase their own caps and gowns starting next year.

In the Board of Education election, incumbent Crystal Simmons is running alongside newcomers Raeleen M. Willard and Jill Davis. Incumbent Robert Hance is not running for another term. Both seats carry five-year terms.

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