Minerva Central proposes a 1.74% tax increase

MINERVA-Voters of the Minerva Central School District will be asked to approve a spending plan for 2011-2012 that includes a modest 1.74 percent increase to the tax rate.

Minerva Superintendent Tim Farrell said that when the first draft of Minerva Central School's (MCS) 2011-2012 budget was finished, he and the school board were pleased with the position that they were in. After cuts in state aid, however, MCS was stripped of just under $300,000 - roughly a 20 percent reduction - and Farrell was back to the drawing board.

The first draft of the budget was within $10,000 of the current year's spending plan, with minimal increases, according to Farrell. The final proposed budget cut expenses by $332,000 with a total budget of $4.99 million and a 6.3 percent spending decrease. The current MCS budget is $5.3 million.

"Our goal was to keep the tax increase to a minimum," he said.

After aiming for a 0-2 percent increase to the tax rate, the proposed budget includes a 1.74 percent increase with a tax rate of $9.88 per $1,000 of assessed property. The current rate is $9.71 per $1,000 of assessed value. That means a homeowner with a home assessed at $150,000 would pay $1,482 in school tax, or about $25 more than this year.

The proposed budget benefited from savings generated from recent retirements and natural changes within the special education department, Farrell said.

Other cuts were made in the form of reductions is faculty and staff positions, reductions in the areas of music, physical education, support services and custodial, as well as reductions in supplies, conferences and staff development needs. The chosen cuts will generate savings while having a minimal impact on students, according to Farrell.

"It wasn't easy," said Farrell. "If our tax livy is limited and revenue decreases as costs increase, we will be forced to close the gap by eliminating services."

MCS has been fortunate enough to avoid major program cuts in the past several years, according to Farrell, but he is certainly worried about the future.

"Things like youth and government and sports make all the difference for some kids," he said. "But they are certainly costly,"

The proposed budget for next year will be presented before the full board for approval Thursday, April 14. The plan will be put to a public vote May 17.

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