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MENANDS — The Board of Education adopted an $8.7 million budget that would increase the tax levy by 3.25 percent, which is well below the 5.11 percent tax cap imposed by the state.
The tax cap is formulaic, and in the relatively small Menands School District – which has just K-eighth grades – it is significantly higher than most of its neighbors.
One reason, said Superintendent Maureen Long, is there is continued growth in the village both in the terms of its overall tax base and its student population. Last year, there were 255 enrolled students and as of last week there were 270. Though, she said, enrollment fluctuates on a near daily basis.
The district, though, stayed below the cap despite seeing state aid decrease by some $50,000. One reason for that, she said, is that aid is based on a combined wealth ration and in Menands that is skewed by one upscale housing development and one large homeless shelter.
Spending too, if voters approve the budget on May 15, will decrease by $26,496.
“We wanted to continue to maintain programming and educational services our taxpayers have come to expect and appreciate,” said Superintendent Maureen Long.
One part time position in the guidance office is being eliminated, but Long said there will not be any disruption because other staffers are expected to pick up the work.
Unlike other districts, Long would not give what the tax increase means to an average homeowner because the equalization rates will not be set until this summer and the aggregate of those calculations will impact the tax rate for each individual homeowner. She did say, though, it would be a “minimal” increase for homeowners.
The district was facing a gap of some $865,000 but used its reserve funds to make up the difference in projected expenditures and revenue for the 2018-19 year.
While overall spending is down, Long said the district did see an increase in the cost of special ed and for educating students for whom English is not a primary language. The district did add an additional English as a New Language instructor.
The board was debating between three different tax rate increases – 3.25, 3.5 and 4 percent – but opted for the smallest.
“The board wanted to see what it would look like at the varied levels,” Long said. “All were under our allowable cap, and with the budget the board adopted we did not need to make no dramatic changes to the programs or other areas where it would impact education.”
Voters statewide will cast ballots on school budgets on Tuesday, May 15. Polls are open from noon to 9 p.m. in the Menands School lobby.