BETHLEHEM: School receives budget windfall

The board ultimately decided to use $300,000 of the extra state aid to offset any tax increase in the 2007-2008 budget and set aside the remaining $600,000 for the 2008-2009 budget. The district is projecting the 2008-2009 budget will be harder to balance because of debt service and a new elementary school that needs to be staffed.

"The 2008-2009 year is the toughest hurdle to cross, and we are projecting a 7 to 8 percent increase," said Loomis.

Average tax rates in the Bethlehem school district over the past 10 years have been about 5.12 percent. Loomis said the overall financial picture is more stable for the district after 2008-2009.

"The future is bright, debt service goes down, staffing for the new school will be set and enrollment levels out," Loomis said.

Board member James Lytle said each year is a unique for state legislators when passing a budget, and expecting the unexpected is more probable.

"It's a year-by-year decision," Lytle said. "The Legislature is free to go in a completely different direction next year.""

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