Lake Placid Central aims to stay within tax cap limit

— Lake Placid Central School Board members will try to stay within the state-mandated 2 percent tax cap limit when drafting their 2012-13 spending plan. Otherwise, it could force them to cut even more from the budget.

As it stands now, school district officials aim to trim about $368,000 to stay under a 2 percent tax levy increase, Superintendent Randy Richards said at the district’s March 13 budget work session. School Board members don’t want to risk a budget vote defeat, which would lead to a mandated contingency budget after failing twice, and that would mean trimming about $500,000.

“It would devastate us,” Richards said.

The proposed 2012-13 budget on March 13 totalled $17,065,097, up $491,405 (2.96 percent) from the current budget of $16,573,692.

And the proposed 2012-13 tax levy totalled $14,354,993, up $615,138 (4.48 percent) from the current tax levy of $13,739,855.

Taxpayers can override a budget that exceeds the district’s allowable tax levy limit, as calculated by the state Education Department, but they have to do it with at least 60 percent of the votes, what is called a supermajority.

Lake Placid school officials said they don’t want to risk falling short of a supermajority, given that only 58 percent of voters (432-314) passed the 2011-12 budget last year, and the tax levy increase was 4 percent.

This is the first year school officials are designing a budget under the tax levy limit imposed by New York state on June 24, 2011, and that has changed the mindset of school officials, according to Business Administrator/Treasurer Leonard Sauers.

“I believe the governor has switched the philosophy on voting on budgets,” Sauers said. “The shift has really gone from passing a budget to you’re really looking to pass the levy.”

The state’s maximum allowable tax levy increase this year — which would be passed by a simple majority of at least 50 percent of voters — is $13,986,936. That means the School Board needs to trim $386,057 from the currently proposed budget.

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