Supermajority needed for zero tax increase

ELLENBURG — Northern Adirondack Central School’s 2012-13 budget carries no tax-levy increase.

The tax rate per $1,000 of assessed value at the district has continued to decrease for several years and will likely do so once again.

Yet 60 percent of the voters, or a super majority, will be required to pass the spending plan.

“What ended up happening with us is that our tax-cap formula made us come out at a negative 10 percent, and that would have been our tax cap which we would have had to dramatically lower the tax rate, and that would have also meant losing a lot of positions,” said Superintendent Laura Marlow.

The Northern Adirondack Central School Board unanimously approved an $18.5 million 2012-13 budget. It represents an increase of 1.53 percent over the current spending plan.

But it carries a zero percent tax levy increase, marking three years running the district has carried the same tax levy amount.

School officials estimate that the tax rate per $1,000 of assessed property value will be $10.57, which is 10 cents less than it is now.

Yet, the spending plan requires approval of 60 percent of voters because it exceeds the district’s tax levy increase limit of negative 10 percent.

“If we were to go with that negative percentage we would lose five to seven more positions, and there is no reason to do that because we are at a zero tax impact,” Marlow said.

The tax cap was publicized around the state as two percent, but as many districts realized, the formula varied at their individual schools, at times surpassing the 2 percent figure and at other times coming in lower, though not as low as at Northern Adirondack Central School.

“So we went with a zero percent tax cap increase,” Marlow said.

The school district’s situation is the result of an anticipated increase in payment-in-lieu-of-taxes revenues.

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