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Taxpayers send message

May 17, 2012
The Leader Herald

The trend in Tuesday's voting on local school budgets shows taxpayers have their limits. Some may have drawn a line in the sand - and it falls below the new state-imposed cap on school tax-levy increases.

Voters in Fulton, Montgomery and southern Hamilton counties easily passed all proposed school budgets except for two. The Fonda-Fultonville and Oppenheim-Ephratah budgets failed. They were the only local school budget proposals that exceeded the tax cap.

The Fonda-Fultonville Central School District proposed a $24.19 million plan that called for a 7.96 percent increase in the tax levy. The state set the district's tax cap at a 4.76 percent increase.

The Oppenheim-Ephratah Central School District proposed an $8.5 million budget that called for a 4.5 percent tax-levy increase. The state set that district's tax cap at 2.79 percent.

The school boards in both districts now must decide whether to propose the same budgets again, propose new budgets of a lesser amount or adopt smaller contingency budgets.

Most local school districts put a lot of work into controlling spending. Several actually proposed smaller plans than their current budgets. The Northville school budget cuts spending by about 0.7 percent but raises the tax levy 2.5 percent. The Amsterdam district budget cut $25,000 in spending and seeks no tax-levy increase. The St. Johnsville district budget cut spending by 7.1 percent but raises the tax levy 2 percent. Voters approved those plans.

Many local school districts faced difficult choices before presenting their 2012-13 budget proposals. Fonda-Fultonville and Oppenheim-Ephratah have to make even more decisions.

The voting results appear to show taxpayers are willing to spend a little more on education, but not much more than a 2 percent or 3 percent increase in the levy. School officials should take note of the results.



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