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S. Colonie hosts budget forum

Residents of the South Colonie Central School District were given the opportunity to ask questions about the 2009-2010 budget at a Board of Education question-and-answer session held Thursday, Feb. 12, at Veeder Elementary School.

The session was the first of two planned meetings at which Superintendent of Schools Jonathan Buhner has said he hopes the public is inspired to get involved in the budget process by attending and asking questions. The next budget session will be held March 5 at Shaker Road Elementary School.

Board Vice President Brian Casey said the crowd used the Thursday forum to ask some good questions about the transportation budget and the costs of the district's initiative to move toward full-day kindergarten.

During the presentation, Casey said, the board wanted everybody to know that the cuts being made in this year's budget are necessary.

We're not taking it lightly, he said. "These cuts hurt because we care about the kids and their futures. And we also care about the taxpayers."

Casey said district officials were pleased with the turnout at Thursday's presentation, at which about six residents had come prepared with questions for the board.

"For the first one, we thought it was very good," Casey said. "The [residents] were very receptive. They certainly understood that it's not our fault that their taxes went through the ceilings."

Last September, many residents who live within the border of the South Colonie Central School District in the Town of Niskayuna found that their tax bills were hundreds of dollars higher than expected. This happened because the businesses in the Town of Colonie won many tax certiorari lawsuits, leaving the bulk of the tax burden on the residents. District officials said they are hoping those residents, as well as all other residents in the district, will be able to attend these budget workshops to better understand what happened with their taxes last year.

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