CRARYVILLE–The Taconic Hills Board of Education has adopted a budget proposal of $35,184,561, which includes a tax levy increase of 1.98%. The budget will go before district voters for approval May 21, with voting from noon to 9 p.m. in the Veterans Community Room.
Two other propositions will also appear on the May 21 ballot, one for a small bus and one for an appointed position on the Board of Education for a student.
The budget shows an increase in spending of $369,488 over last year. The proposed tax levy amounts to $22,480,000. The 1.98% tax increase is well below the district’s tax levy limit, which was calculated for this year to be 4.21%.
Board members considered five different options, but all agreed on the 1.98%.
“If we ask for more money than we need to effectively run the school, then we’re doing the wrong thing,” said Board President Kevin Maisenbacher.
Board member Cliff Campbell said that the board needs to “look forward so we don’t shortchange our future,” and said he agreed the 1.98% was fair.
During the public forum before the budget decision, science teacher Matt Fuller asked the board to consider a higher tax levy for the benefit of the school. He told the board that public education can be great when properly funded.
“I’m not asking you to choose the highest tax rate,” he said. “I am asking you to debate if the recommended rate of 2% is the best for our district.”
The district’s budget hearing is scheduled for May 14 at 6:30 p.m.
The board also approved adding two other propositions to the May 21 ballot.
One is a proposition to purchase a van or small vehicle. While the district has a surplus of large buses, it lacks depth in the number of small vehicles needed. The vehicle purchase proposition limits the cost to no more than $46,353.
Business Manager Cybil Howard said at last week’s meeting that “the tax levy is not supporting this purchase in any way.”
Of the total, $28,352.70 would come from a bus reserve account, while another $18,000 would come from the general fund.
Transportation Supervisor Rick Viebrock said he has five full-size buses in surplus that he wants to sell. Proceeds from the sale of these buses would go towards funding the purchase of the new vehicle.
Mr. Vievbrorck said that declining enrollment means the district needs fewer buses. He said it costs the district about $3,000 per year per bus just to maintain and keep them inspected.
“I don’t see why we should hang on to them if we really don’t need them,” he said. “All we’re going to do is put money into them.”
Additionally, Mr. Viebrock said that this particular group of buses is known nationally to experience engine defects. He said repair this problem would cost the district about $3,000.
Board member Christine Perry asked whether there is a market for buses known to have mechanical issues.
“Yes, they just don’t bring much money,” replied Mr. Viebrock. He said he hopes to get up to $6,000 for each bus.
The other proposition approved by the board to be added to the May 21 ballot is to allow a high school student to serve on the board as a non-voting student representative.
Also at the April 23 meeting the board:
*Accepted the resignation of clerk typist Angelina Zacarolli, due to retirement effective July 1. The board also appointed her as a substitute teacher, effective following her retirement.
*Reduced a French teaching position from 1.0 to 0.8 (full time to part time) due to declining enrollment.
*Reinstated a .5 school psychologist position.
*Established a .5 ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher. Mr. Maisenbacher said the position was contracted out last year at a cost of roughly $97,000. The new position would only cost the district about $50,000.
*Appointed five lifeguards: Kimberly Hoffman, Megan Alicea, Abbegail Nack, Colleen Ostrander, and Severin Bowman.