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Keene Central needs 60% of voters to exceed tax cap in negative digits

May 10, 2019
By GRIFFIN KELLY - Staff Writer ( , Lake Placid News

The tax cap for Keene Central School's 2019-20 tentative budget is minus 4.28%, and the school has proposed to go over that cap.

While many local school's tax caps are around a 2% increase, Keene's formula works out to the negatives this year.

"Our tax levy would have to go down to meet that compliance," Superintendent Daniel Mayberry said. "What we're proposing is to pay off our share of our BOCES capital project. That's what put us over our cap."

The KCS board has proposed a tax levy, meaning what's paid in local taxes of $5,214,773, or a 1.62% increase. The total spending, including state and federal funding, is $6,381,471, a 2.03% increase from last school year's budget.

The tax rate per $1,000 of assessed property value would be $9.60.

There are two spots open on the Board of Education. Molly Jacobson and Jennifer Kazmierczak are running, both newcomers. They would fill spots currently held by Ann Whitney and John Haverlick.

There will be a public hearing on the proposed budget Monday, May 13, at 6 p.m. in the school's auditorium.

Part of the proposed budget would go toward a BOCES capital project, to which districts throughout Essex, Clinton, Warren and Washington counties contribute. The capital project included improvements to the Plattsburgh and Mineville BOCES campuses in December 2018. Keene's part of that project is $302,875, and it would pay off that entirely this coming school year.

Mayberry said paying off the BOCES project now would save the school $75,000 in interest and clear out KCS's debt before starting its own capital project.

Because the budget is over the cap, it will need a super-majority vote to pass, 60%. If approved, residents would not receive School Tax Relief checks, a rebate given to people whose district stayed under the cap.

If the budget is approved, the school will save money on special education expenditures and materials and supplies. It would increase spending on salaries and benefits and the purchase of a full-size bus if need be.

"If something catastrophic happened, we have those funds to buy a new bus," Mayberry said. "It's in case of emergency."

Separate from the 2019-20 school budget, KCS is also looking to approve a capital project valued at $7,859,566. The capital project would include a new classroom for STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) courses, an addition to the fitness classroom, an addition to the main offices and renovations to the media classroom and auditorium. It would also see improvements to the school's roof, masonry, infrastructure and information technologies. Outside, the athletic fields would be reconstructed, sanitary and drainage systems would be improved, and an underground propane storage tank would be installed.

There will be public votes on the 2019-20 school budget and the capital project budget Tuesday, May 21. If the capital project budget is approved, construction is expected to start March 2021 and finish December 2022.

This year, KCS finished paying off the bond for its 1999 capital project.



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