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Bethlehem schools approve 2008-09 budget

The Bethlehem Central School District approved its budget to be put forth to voters in May. With a slight decrease in the original tentative tax rate impact, school officials say the new budget will result in tax rate increase of 4.14 percent in Bethlehem and 5.24 percent in New Scotland.

Voters will also have to separately weigh in on a nearly $1.36 million bus proposition for 18 new buses. Residents voted down the last bus proposition in 2006.

The adopted budget comes in at $84,769,533, according to the board of education vote on Tuesday, March 18. The school budget and board member election, along with area library budgets and board member elections, will be held on May 20 at the Bethlehem Central High School.

In the past, voters went to the middle school to vote but the venue was changed this year to the high school to be more accommodating to residents.

Currently, Bethlehem residents pay $18.09 per $1,000 of assessed property value for school tax, and New Scotland residents in the district pay $17.60 per $1,000. If the new budget passes as it currently stands, taxpayers in Bethlehem will then pay $18.84 and $18.52 in New Scotland.

That is a 75-cent and 92-cent increase per thousand dollars respectively. In other words, the owner of a $200,000 home in Bethlehem will pay $150 and $184 in New Scotland, according to the proposed budget that was adopted.

During month-long weekly meetings the district's board of education has gone over line items and individual department budgets after reviewing the recommendations of the Citizens Budget Group. The board was quick to recognize the budget group's feedback as speeding along the budget process and asking the necessary questions during what they deemed shaky economic times.

I want to give thanks to the Citizen Budgets Group who gave us this head start, said Michael Lytle, board president. "It has put us in a better position."

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