Tax levy for Tupper Lake School increases 1.06%

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Posted: Thursday, May 15, 2014 3:28 am

TUPPER LAKE — The Tupper Lake Central School budget, which trims some staff, proposes a tax levy up 1.06 percent.

The increase is at the allowed maximum tax cap, according to the state calculation.

The proposed amount to be raised by taxes for the coming school year is $7,667,982, with total proposed spending at $16,856,468, a decrease of 0.83 percent.

THREE JOBS CUT

Eliminated by the spending plan are one pre-kindergarten aide, one art teacher and one of two librarian jobs.

The budget also pares back athletic exhibition travel.

“I think the budget is as responsible as it could be,” Superintendent Seth McGowan said of the challenging process.

“We had the goal of maintaining student programming and staying under the tax cap."

The budget leaves one librarian for the entire district.

"We are not happy to lose the art and library jobs,” he said, describing how library and research are being built into teaching models. 

“This is a step backwards for us. But you can’t argue with a budget that’s less than current spending. We wish we could keep those positions. 

"On a total impact to students, it was the least of the bad options that we had.”

ATHLETIC REDUCTIONS

Cuts to athletic programs will be determined in the coming months.

Tupper Lake had already removed junior-varsity programs for the present school year.

“We have an Athletic Advisory Committee. It would most likely be sports tournament travel and non-league, preseason games," McGowan said.

EMPLOYEE CONTRACTS

The proposed budget looks to rebuild fund balance that was nearly drained last year.

Doing so, McGowan said, will remove the district from "the financially stressed list.”

Contracts for teachers are in place through the end of the 2014-15 school year, allowing a 2 percent pay increase next school year.

“Support staff are also receiving a 3.5 percent pay increase in their contract, which ends at the end of the '15-16 school year,” the superintendent said.

No major purchases are in the school budget. A computer priced at $130,000 was postponed, reserving revenue.

Partial restoration of the Gap Elimination Adjustment added $385,000 to the school aid initially proposed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo for next year.

“That helps,” McGowan said. “We’re still struggling with the GEA. We wish it was fully eliminated. We do appreciate all the local taxpayers and community groups that wrote letters to support elimination of the GEA.”

BUS PROPOSITION

The budget vote includes Proposition 1, seeking approval to buy two 66-passenger buses at a maximum combined cost not to exceed $234,413.

McGowan said the purchase would be spread out over five years, costing taxpayers a little more than $5,800 next school year.

With state aid applied in subsequent years and resale of the buses in seven years, he said, this is the best way for the district to maintain its fleet.

“It’s important that we are able to buy the new buses and to borrow for the purchase. The cost of this proposition in next year’s budget is the interest payment on borrowing," McGowan said.

"It will save taxpayers money in the long run.”

Email Kim Smith Dedam: kdedam@pressrepublican.com

NO CONTESTED RACES

Two candidates are running for two open seats on the Tupper Lake Central School Board. 

Jason Rolley and Wayne Davison are seeking the seats, both three-year terms. 

Incumbents Mark Yamrick and Paul Ellis did not seek reelection. 

The polls will be open from noon to 8 p.m. Tuesday, May 20, in the Tupper Lake Middle/High School library.