Saranac Lake school taxes likely to increase

SARNAC LAKE - With slumping revenues, shaky state aid and skyrocketing personnel costs, taxpayers in the Saranac Lake Central School District will likely have to swallow a slight tax increase in the coming year.

According to outgoing district Business Manager Mike Kilroy, worst-case projections have the tax levy increasing 5.6 percent in the 2010-2011 budgetary year.

But according to District Superintendent Gerry Goldman, with a little work from the Board of Education, that increase could be reduced.

"I think it is realistic to aim for a 2.8 percent tax increase," Goldman said. "It definitely isn't going to be zero."

Kilroy said that he is anticipating hikes in health insurance costs as high as 12 percent or $450,000.

The district will also be forced to consume the $700,000 cost of seven or eight disabled students in residential placement. Last year, only two students were in the program.

Governor David Paterson is considering slashing school aid in an attempt to reconcile a hefty budget deficit, but the total amount of the cuts he is seeking won't be known until the executive budget is released in roughly two weeks.

For Goldman, lowering the actual tax hike could hurt, but could also be productive.

"We certainly aren't going to do it without some pain," he said. "We probably have more staff than we actually need to run the district."

School boards across the state will begin the budgeting process in the spring.

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