3.5% levy hike facing voters in Johnstown

JOHNSTOWN — Greater Johnstown School District voters will decide the fate of a $33.9 million district budget for 2017-18 with a 3.5 percent tax levy increase at the annual budget vote and board election May 16.

Polls will be open from 11 a.m. to

8 p.m. that day in the Johnstown High School auditorium lobby.

In addition to the proposed budget, district residents will elect three members to the nine-member Board of Education for three-year terms beginning July 1.

Seats expiring are those of board Vice President Evamarie Mraz, board member Angela Clizbe, and a vacant seat left open by the resignation of former board President Scott Miller.

A possible write-in situation is shaping up. On the ballot will be only two names — Mraz, who is seeking re-election; and Beverly Alves of the town of Ephratah. Clizbe is not seeking re-election on the board.

The proposed 2017-18 budget totals $33.9 million in appropriations.

Spending would increase by 1.62 percent.

The projected tax levy would increase by $280,580 or 3.5 percent for a total levy of $8.3 million —below the state’s 6.2 percent tax cap for Johnstown.

If the plan is approved by voters, Johnstown officials anticipate maintaining all current programs and services.

To reduce expenses, the district eliminated seven instructional positions last year, reduced support staff through attrition, utilized shared services through BOCES, shifted staff to lower cost health insurance plans, and implemented districtwide energy conservation measures.

Officials say the district has $2.57 million more in anticipated costs than expected revenue. The district proposes to continue to limit expenses through conservative spending, reducing costs where possible, and to maximize state and federal funds to their greatest extent.

Those living in the city of Johnstown with a home assessed at $100,000 will pay $50.68 more in school taxes with a 3.5 percent tax increase. Those with a $50,000 home will pay $25.34 more.

The school tax rate for city property owners will increase from $14.48 per $1,000 of assessed valuation currently to $14.99 per $1,000 for 2017-18.

The disrict’s state Foundation Aid is expected increase by $489,556, or up by by 1.3 percent.

No staff cuts for the next school year are slated, officials say.

Total revenue is expected at about $31.5 million.

The district plans to use about $2.5 million in fund balance.

Officials said the district is expected to see savings and benefit reductions totalling $827,000 in the 2017-18 budget.

Reductions include $127,000 from the employee retirement system; $266,000 from the teacher retirement system; and $73,000 from FICA/Medicare.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at [email protected]

By Chad Fleck

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