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Saratoga Springs city schools approve budget

The Saratoga Springs Board of Education voted unanimously Tuesday, April 7, to adopt a proposed 2009-2010 budget, which brings no increase to the tax rate.

The $110,129,655 proposed budget is an increase of 2.59 percent over last year's $107,353,350 budget. That increase will be made up by the restoration of state aid.

Originally, in March, a 3.91 percent tax levy increase was considered when there was still uncertainty over how much state aid schools would be getting. In December, Gov. David Paterson had suggested cuts to school aid in his budget proposal, but in recent weeks, the federal stimulus aid injected the state with money.

Francis Palumbo, president of the board, voiced his support of the proposed budget. Had the numbers from the state not have been as good, we would still have a fair budget, he said. "Luckily they were."

Board Trustee Charles Phillips said he was pleased but cautious about the lack of a tax increase, and highlighted that it was only possible due to state aid.

"We can't sustain this," he said. "The piggy bank will go dry."

Trustee Jay Rifenbary threw in his support of the proposal during the meeting, admitting not everyone would be happy with the decisions made, but in the current economy, it was "a job well done."

Trustee Jeffrey Piro echoed Rifenbary's comment on the economy. "It's the appropriate response for the times we face right now," he said.

In the proposed budget, tax rates range from 13.94 percent in Saratoga Springs to 10.30 percent in Malta. A homeowner with property valued at $350,000 in Saratoga Springs pays an estimated $3,402.68, a 0.13 percent decrease from last year. A property owner with a house of the same value in Malta pays $3,359.37, a 4.64 percent decrease. Town of Saratoga homes are the only homes that saw increases with a 17.45 tax rate" they pay $3,391.09, a 4.04 percent increase.

The budget also includes proposition two, which calls for the replacement of buses for approximately $789,000.

The fate of the proposed budget is now up to voters who cast their votes on May 19. ""

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