Superintendent Les Loomis, who is retiring at the end of the school year, noted that this is the third year in a row that the district has kept the tax levy increase under 4 percent despite all of the economic hurdles in place.
In Bethlehem, the estimated school increase translates into $18.09 per $1,000 of assessed valued (a 69-cent increase), or $138 increase for a $200,000 home. In New Scotland, the estimated increase is $17.43 per $1,000 dollars of assessed value (a 3-cent increase), or a $6 increase for a $200,000 home.
An owner of a $400,000 home in Bethlehem will see a $276 tax increase and $12 in New Scotland if voters pass the budget.
If the budget is voted down, the state allows districts to make some cuts and re-propose a new budget to voters. If that vote fails, a bare-bones contingency budget will have to be in place and board members would have to make more cuts in order to keep the district operational costs in place.
"That would be damaging to the quality of our programs," Loomis said at the meeting when asked what would happen if the budget was voted down.
In addition to voting on the budget and bus proposition, residents will be voting on three Board of Education members running for three open seats.
The candidates include one incumbent, current board vice president, James Dering, and two newcomers: Laura Ladd Bierman, who ran unsuccessfully last year, and Matt Downey.
Although the school district and the Bethlehem Library are their own entities with their own boards and budgets, both will be on the ballot at the high school.
The Bethlehem Public Library is proposing a $3.47 million budget for the 2008-09 season and has two people running for two seats on its board.