Flat taxes nixed, school budget headed for vote at W'burg CS

WARRENSBURG-A motion to cut the Warrensburg Central School District's proposed 2011-12 budget down to a zero percent increase in local tax levy was narrowly defeated Monday evening by the school board in a 4-3 vote.

Minutes later, the board decided in a similar 4-3 divided vote to endorse the school administration's recommended 2011-12 budget, calling for appropriations of $18,521,841 - and to spend $18,506,841 as a contingency plan.

The approved budget, which calls for an overall decrease in spending of 2.61 percent from the present year but an increase of 1.92 percent in local tax levy, now goes before a public vote in the annual school district election, to be held from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, May 17 in the high school gymnasium.

If the endorsed budget is defeated in the public vote, the contingency plan goes into effect.

The reason there's a decrease in projected spending yet an increase in tax levy is due to a reduction of about $805,000 in state aid for 2011-12. The endorsed spending plan calls for using $808,500 from the school's unrestricted fund balance to keep the tax increase minimal.

Board members Linda Marcella, Richlene Morey and Board President John MicGlire voted to reduce the tax levy increase to zero by drawing an additional $157,000 from savings. Board members Laura Danna, Jim Carrion, Beth Callahan, and board vice president Dean Moore voted against the measure, and endorsed the administration's plan, which was opposed by Marcella, Morey and MicGlire.

Linda Marcella said local taxpayers needed as much tax relief as possible, citing figures illustrating how homeowners in neighboring school districts pay many hundreds of dollars less in school taxes for a $150,000 home.

Board member Laura Danna, however, responded that any additional budget cutting might put the district's programs at risk in upcoming years as the school board again struggles to keep the budget flat.

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