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Edwards-Knox school budget includes 4 percent tax levy hike

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RUSSELL — Residents in the Edwards-Knox Central School District will vote this month on a $12.9 million proposed 2013-14 budget that increases the tax levy by 4 percent.

They’ll also fill two Board of Education seats and vote on a proposition to spend up to $320,000 to purchase three full-size buses.

The board adopted the proposed spending plan 6-3 on April 22 with “no” votes cast by board President Theresa A. Hogle, Rick Brewer and Amanda Fuller. Voting for the budget were Christopher Averill, Lyn Coller, Reginald LaPoint, Tom O’Brien, Joseph Thomas and Randy VanBrocklin.

A budget public hearing is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. May 14 in the cafeteria.

Mrs. Hogle said she voted against the budget because “I’m concerned about how much fund balance we used and how that will affect us in the future. I think we will probably have to make more cuts next year. In the end, the board came to a consensus to adopt the budget. Now it’s up to the voters to decide.”

During budget deliberations, the board decided to allocate $614,849 from the fund balance rather than make deep spending cuts such as eliminating additional teaching positions. Four teaching jobs are expected to be cut through retirements, including two teachers who have been offered an early retirement incentive.

In April, school officials discovered that $581,386 was incorrectly budgeted as revenue when it should have been a reduction in aid because of the state’s gap elimination adjustment.

As a result, Mrs. Hogle said, the board should cut more spending to help counteract the mistake.

“The mistake we found really caught us off guard. We had to make a lot of decisions in a hurry,” she said.

In this year’s budget, the district used $740,525 from its fund balance.

The proposed $12,291,868 spending plan is 0.8 percent lower than this year’s $12,391,242.

However, the amount collected from property taxes would increase from $1,746,413 to $1,816,269. The district is slated to receive $9,812,024 in state aid.

Mrs. Fuller will face two challengers for her seat: Thomas Whitmarsh and Julie Bullock.

Mr. O’Brien is running unopposed for his seat. Both seats carry five-year terms.

Voting is from noon to 8 p.m. May 21 in the auditorium.

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