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In Moriah - Moriah proposes reduced budget

PORTHENRY-The Moriah Central School board of education has proposed using reserves to hold down taxes in 2011-12.

The proposed 2011-12 Moriah school budget totals $13,856,410. That's a $91,691 decrease - 0.066 percent - from the present spending plan of $13,948,101.

The tax levy in the proposed budget is $3,662,121. That's an increase of $67,169 - 1.9 percent - from the current tax levy of $3,554,952.

Residents will decide the fate of the proposed budget in voting Tuesday, May 17, 1 to 8 p.m. in the school's main lobby.

The proposed budget decrease is largely the result of the school board's decision to use $600,000 in fund balance in 2011-12. Superintendent Bill Larrow said the decision was made after the state cut aid to the district by $416,499. Moriah is expecting to receive $9.4 million in state assistance in 2011-12, down from $10.2 million two years ago.

"It's the second straight year we've taken a hit in state aid," Larrow said. "We're a district that relies on that state aid."

There are no staff or program cuts in the proposed budget, but nearly half of the fund balance being used comes from personnel.

"We had some unanticipated staff changes at the end of last year," Larrow explained. "We were able to move some people around and we didn't fill those positions. Now that's paying off for us."

Those positions - elementary, math and history teachers - saved Moriah about $190,000 last year.

The budget includes a pay freeze for all administrative and civil service employees. The teachers union is presently without a contract and is in negotiations with the district.

Moriah's proposed budget includes increases in spending for fuel, special education, employee health insurance and employee retirement costs.

"I feel this is a very fair budget," Larrow said. "We got a lot of input from our staff and our community. We worked hard to keep spending down and we maintained all of our programs in academics, extracurriculars and athletics."

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