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Bethlehem school district, library votes near

Local residents over the age of 18 will be weighing in on the school district's and library's new budgets and board members at a Tuesday, May 20, vote.

Voters will cast their ballots at Bethlehem Central High School at 700 Delaware Ave. this year.

The school district is proposing an $84.77 million budget, which will result in a 3.79 percent tax levy increase for Bethlehem residents and a 4.9 percent increase for New Scotland residents.

Since the district adopted its budget in March, well before the April 1 deadline for the state budget, Assemblyman Tim Gordon, I-Bethlehem, was able to secure an additional $500,000 for the school with the support of state Sen. Neil Breslin, D-Delmar. The money was used to offset costs for the new Eagle Elementary School and lower the tax rate increase for residents by about a third of a percent for the year.

Residents will also be voting on a bus proposition not to exceed $1.36 million in order to purchase 18 new buses. The state will reimburse the district 64 percent of the total cost if the bus proposition is passed and there would be no tax impact on residents until next year.

The total budget adopted by the school represents a roughly 7.5 million increase over last year's $77.2 million finalized budget.

School officials praised this year's budget as being conservative and fiscally responsible in the face a tough economic climate and substantial capital projects like school renovations and the first new school built in the district in more than 50 years.

We think people should invest in an excellent school system, Board of Education President James Lytle, encouraging people to participate in a May 20 vote. "We believe it will be supported by a community very proud of its schools."

Lytle also pointed out that it was the second year in a row that a citizen budget group has helped worked on the school budget as an indication of the community's involvement and investment into the district.

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