Press-Republican

June 9, 2013

Newcomb, Minerva, Tupper Lake schools offer reduced budgets

BY LOHR McKINSTRY
Press-Republican

---- — NEWCOMB — Newcomb, Minerva and Tupper Lake central school districts had all asked voters to approve 2013-14 budgets that topped the state’s 2 percent tax-levy cap.

They all needed a 60 percent super-majority to override the cap at the polls in May; Newcomb passed but didn’t reach that figure, and voters shot down the Tupper Lake and Minerva budgets.

Now, all three districts will be offering voters revised budgets for a second try on Tuesday, June 18.

Minerva and Tupper Lake pared their budgets to come in under the cap for the revote, while Newcomb made reductions but still doesn’t meet the tax cap.

NEWCOMB CENTRAL

Newcomb Superintendent Clark “Skip” Hults said they’ve heard from residents that they don’t want them to go below the tax cap.

“‘Can you give us something in between?’ is what they’ve been asking,” he said.

The Newcomb budget proposed now would increase the tax levy 12.7 percent, instead of the 24 percent hike that failed to win voter approval the first time around.

The tax cap for Newcomb is 6.94 percent, so this budget will also require a 60 percent super-majority vote.

Voters supported the first effort 111-104, which was a simple majority but not the super-majority needed to pass.

The tax levy is $4.1 million in the revised budget. The total spending plan is $5.4 million, a 2.72 percent increase of $143,000 over the current plan.

The budget would set a tentative Homestead Act tax rate of $2.81 per $1,000 of assessment, a 1-cent decrease; the non-Homestead rate would be $14.55, a 55-cent increase.

Newcomb cut its Distance Learning Program, plus spending for school supplies and textbooks, extracurricular programs and building maintenance to reduce the budget $400,000 for the new proposal.

Two teaching assistants and a combined teacher-teaching assistant post would be eliminated through layoffs, and a special-education teacher would be reduced through attrition.

Making further cuts would cripple their programs, Hults said.

The public hearing on the Newcomb budget is at 7 p.m. Monday.

The vote will be 1 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, June 18, at the school.

TUPPER LAKE CENTRAL

Tupper Lake Central School’s new budget comes in under the cap but now cuts seven positions.

Some athletics, after-school activities and field trips have also been cut, Superintendent Seth McGowan said.

The first budget would have exceeded the state tax cap, but voters defeated it 685-512.

The revised version comes in well under the tax cap of 4.76 percent, with a tax levy of $7.58 million, a 3.76 percent increase over the 2012-13 budget. 

The full budget totals $16.9 million, a 6.1 percent increase of $987,980.

The tentative tax rate would be $12.84 per $1,000 of assessment, 65 cents more than this year.

The revised budget would eliminate seven positions: a science teacher, school psychologist, foreign-language teacher, social-studies teacher, speech-improvement specialist and two special-education teachers.

Only the science and social-studies positions would be layoffs, with the others reduced through attrition.

The Tupper Lake Central public hearing is at 6 p.m. Monday at L.P. Quinn Elementary School library.

The vote is noon to 8 p.m. Tuesday, June 18, at the Middle/High School.

MINERVA CENTRAL

The proposed 2013-14 Minerva Central School budget is now a 2.97 percent tax-levy increase, far less than the 8.9 percent that was defeated.

The new spending plan cuts six part-time positions: a physical education/driver’s education teacher, social-studies teacher, elementary teacher, band instructor, cleaner and cafeteria helper.

Also, the district’s teaching staff agreed to a pay freeze for next year that would save $62,000, Superintendent Timothy Farrell said.

The first budget failed by a tally of 177-144. The School Board cut another $192,000 to bring it under the cap of 3.97 percent for Minerva.

The budget’s tax levy is $3.2 million, and it totals $4.95 million, a $90,000 decrease over the present school year.

A public hearing will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the school.

The budget vote is 1 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, June 18, also at the school.

Email Lohr McKinstry:lmckinstry@pressrepublican.com