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Carthage Central School public forum has low turnout

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WEST CARTHAGE — The public forum on the Carthage Central School District’s proposed $59 million budget attracted only six community members Tuesday.

Superintendent Peter J. Turner said he hopes that people can see the board has taken the time to put together a responsible budget.

District resident David E. Moses said he was disappointed at the low attendance.

“I’m very discouraged with the turnout of this. The superintendent and I discussed a few things before this and I told him to be prepared for some not-so-nice discussions from a lot of people who have talked to me,” Mr. Moses said. “And (they) never showed. They’re afraid to come and voice their opinion and afraid no one is going to listen.”

Mr. Moses said Carthage’s costs are too high for a district of its size.

The Board of Education adopted a 2014-15 budget that will reduce the tax levy, or amount to be raised by taxes, 5.38 percent.

Mr. Turner said board members had gone through the budget and meticulously examined every line item, trying to reduce as much as possible while maintaining all programs.

He said the budget may be up, but the tax levy is not.

The budget sets next year’s spending at $59,125,971, an increase of $4,075,259, or 7.4 percent, from the current school year.

The proposed budget calls for $3,849,362 to be used from the fund balance and $990,565 from the debt service fund. The money will be used to pay off the remainder of a $3.3 million bond and to reduce the levy.

Voters also will consider three propositions: the purchase of 13 new buses, combined funding of $164,000 for community libraries and the establishment of a capital reserve fund.

The capital reserve fund will be able to accumulate a maximum of $10 million to be used with approval by the Board of Education.

Mr. Turner said the capital reserve fund will allow the board to save for the district’s share of any capital improvement projects.

For the local libraries, $103,000 will be allocated for the Carthage Free Library and $61,000 for the Sally Ploof Hunter Memorial Library, also known as the village of Black River Free Library.

District members also will vote to fill three vacancies on the Board of Education. Three members’ terms are expiring: those of Kent D. Burto, Mary Louise Hunt and Lyndsey M. Hodkinson. Mr. Turner said Mr. Burto and Mrs. Hunt have submitted petitions for re-election. Mrs. Hodkinson will be running as a write-in candidate. Newcomer Abigail L. Hammond also has submitted a petition.

The public will vote on the budget, board vacancies and propositions Tuesday. Polls will be open from noon to 9 p.m. at the Carthage High School library, 36500 Route 26.

For more information about the proposed budget, visit the district website at www.carthagecsd.org.

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