State funds help lower BC tax rate

A statewide budget vote for local schools and libraries will be held May 20, when residents will also vote on school board members and library trustees. In Bethlehem, this year's vote will take place at the high school off of Delaware Avenue.

The proposed $84.8 million spending plan for the district will remain the same, according to school officials, but the additional funding will take some of the budget's burden off of the local taxpayers. Out of the $500,000 netted by Gordon, $175,000 is being used to lower the estimated tax rate and the other $325,000 will take the place of capital construction funding to help equip and furnish Eagle Elementary,

The new school, the district's first in more than 50 years, will be open in the fall, and an open house with guided tours will be held on Saturday, May 10, from 2 until 3:30 p.m.

Newly adjusted projections show that the school tax rate for Bethlehem will be $18.78 and $18.46 for New Scotland, which is down 6 cents per $1,000 of assessment from earlier projections.

This means that the owner of a $200,000 home in Bethlehem can expect an increase of $138 in their school taxes, and the same homeowner in New Scotland will see an estimated $172 increase.

The extra funds and lowered tax rate come at a time when STAR benefits are being reduced for the district.

Seniors who participate in the Enhanced STAR exemption will see an increase of $137.40 in their tax bill. STAR benefits change from year-to-year based on a state formula, but, according to Cunningham, the exemptions can now be adjusted at a rate of up to 10 percent instead of the previous 5 percent limit that was in place.

The basic STAR exemption is being decreased from $40,160 to $36,140, with Enhanced STAR, which is awarded to seniors with fixed income, being reduced from $76,020 to $68,420.

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