Mohonasen officials unveil budget

Officials for Mohonasen Central Schools unveiled the district's $41.94 million preliminary 2008-2009 budget at a meeting with about a dozen residents at Pinewood Intermediate School on Monday, April 14.

The school board is set to approve the budget at its next scheduled meeting on Monday, April 21, at 7 p.m.

The proposed budget represents a 4 percent increase over the $40.3 million 2007-2008 budget.

Officials also project a 2.6 percent tax levy increase from $20.8 million in 2007-2008 to $21.36 million in 2008-2009.

Superintendent Kathleen Spring touted the fact that the tax levy increase is the lowest it has been in more than 10 years.

This year, Mohonasen received a record $18.92 million in state aid, said Spring.

The state aid falls into several categories, including aid for BOCES programs, technology and hardware, and building aid.

District officials said the state's building aid must be used to offset debt from past building programs. Other aid types, including aid for BOCES programs, must be spent by the district, or else the aid will be lost.

That means we have to take a very conservative approach, said Denise Swezey, Mohonasen's assistant superintendent for business.

As part of its state aid package, Mohonasen will receive $12.49 million in Foundation aid in 2008-2009, up from $11.1 million last year. Spring said that Foundation aid can be spent on anything from programs to salaries to employee benefits.

Spring said she credits an increase in state aid and a fiscally conservative approach as reasons for the relatively mild tax increase.

The 2007-2008 budget represented a 4.25 percent tax levy increase and the 2006-2007 budget was characterized by a 9.14 percent tax levy increase.

Spring was adamant that last year's revaluation of property in Rotterdam did not mean the district collected more taxes, but rather that the levy was redistributed based on the new assessed values of properties in the town.

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