Onteora Central School District Assistant Superintendent for Business Victoria McLaren presented the latest draft of a budget for the 2014/2015 school year that is penciled in as a $52.3 million document, an increase of $697,863 over the current year. Early indications appear that the largest increase in the budget will come from employee benefits of approximately $14.5 million to $15.1 million or an increase of $561,000. The largest budget item, instruction is proposed to increase to $26.1 million or over $100,000. The Transportation budget is uncertain because new contract bids are yet to be opened. They have a deadline of February 6. For now the district has projected transportation spending to increase by $50,232.57, pending the bid opening.
The district’s share of state aid is projected to decline by $35,613 and district figures show that since 2009, State Aid has dropped by 22.47 percent. The maximum allowable tax levy increase for Onteora district is 3.77 percent or $1.518 million and can be approved by a simple majority.
The Board of Education agreed to hold a public hearing at its next meeting, Tuesday, February 18, at Bennett Intermediate School, followed by a vote that will determine if War Veterans may receive the school tax exemptions it discussed last week.
There are three exemptions, or reductions in property valuations for school tax purposes, in that group. However, they stand or fall together, as the board must vote on them as a package. The exemptions include wartime veteran at $12,000; combat veteran, an additional $8,000 (totaling $20,000); and if a person were disabled through wartime the maximum would be $40,000. If all those eligible took advantage of the exemptions, a total of $170,000 would shift to other taxpayers in the district, adding up to $5 per $100,000 on equalized assessed property value. The board could also choose to increase the exemption, thus affecting other taxpayers in the district by $15 per $100,000. The deadline to enact this change is March 1 in order for it to apply by the 2014/2015-school tax year.
School Board President Ann McGillicuddy read a letter from Donald Sims of the Shandaken American Legion that requested the board support the tax exemption legislation. “As you know our nation has been at war for over ten years,” read McGillicuddy, “and American servicemen and women have made great sacrifices to ensure the safety and security of our great nation.” The letter points out that Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the school tax exemption as policy on December 21.