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BH-BL school district revises tax levy

The Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake School District has lowered its tax levy for the coming school year to accommodate lower-than-expected assessment changes in some areas. The levy adjustment of $357,000 was necessary to maintain the average tax hike of 1.9 percent for the 2009-2010 school year, district officials said.

The tax levy now stands at $32,306,060. Voters approved a $53.4 million budget by a vote of 1,483 to 1,199 in May, and the Board of Education unanimously approved the new levy Tuesday, Aug. 25.

Property values showed little growth last year in the four towns of the school district Ballston, Charlton, Clifton Park and Glenville moving from $1.51 billion to $1.52 billion. According to the district, the shift will result in only $146,000 in new school tax revenue, far below projections.

To maintain the previous tax levy, the district would have had to raise the average tax rate to 3.1 percent.

The Board of Education was able to approve the levy decrease in part because of cost savings measures taken last year, including lowering of thermostats and a reduction in discretionary spending.

"Some costs are higher than you estimate every year, but overall we finished the year with some savings the board can apply to holding down taxes this year or in 2010," said Assistant Superintendent Jacqueline St. Onge.

Officials said the budget that voters passed already had more than $1 million in cutbacks, including the elimination of about 20 full-time equivalencies, the elimination of the diving team and fourth-level soccer and baseball teams and the deferral of furniture and supply purchases.

In school districts across the state, budgets are prepared and voted on before assessment rolls are finalized. This sometimes results in discrepancies between the expected and actual tax rates.

The tax rate also differs from town to town, due to equalization rates set by the state. The finalized BH-BL tax rate changes are as follows: 1.3 percent increase in Ballston to $19.57 per $1,000 of assessed property value; 4 percent increase in Charlton to $25.70; 2.5 percent increase in Glenville to $20.26; 4.6 percent decrease in Clifton Park to $29.69.

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