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February 24, 2012

Roy-Hart keeps budget under cap

ROYALTON — Taxes won’t be going up by more than 2 percent in the Royalton-Hartland School District after all.

Given a choice of either raising the tax levy by 2.46 percent, Roy-Hart’s actual property tax levy limit, or by 2 percent, school board members decided Thursday to go with the lower amount.

The difference between the two tax levies was about $41,775 in revenue for the district. For taxpayers, the difference was about 10 cents per $1,000 of assessed land value.

Two percent also came in to play with the amount of the entire budget. The budget currently is just over $22 million, a cut of about $500,000– or 2 percent– in spending from the 2011-12 school year.

At a previous meeting on Feb. 9, board members asked Superintendent Kevin MacDonald to offer a retirement incentive to teachers, but one that was contingent on having at least six takers. MacDonald reported that there will be six teachers who will take the incentive.

The superintendent also recommended all six be replaced, but board members did not decide whether to replace the retirements Thursday.

“Could I get by? If that’s the directive, absolutely,” MacDonald said. “The impact here, is if you’re going to look at where the retirements came from, all but one of them was at the elementary. You’d have increased class size, somewhere.”

The incentive is the same as it has been the past two years, a teacher who will retire will receive $15,000 if they give up their right to rescind their retirement. Even if teachers have submitted letters with an intent to retire, they can still back out before June 30 and return to work in the fall.

Between the retirements and their replacements as well as the lower tax levy, MacDonald said the district is left with about a $13,000 budget gap. However, that will be covered by making additional cuts in expenses. And if the state gives any additional funding it will be used to reduce the amount used by reserves or fund balance, district officials said.

According to the new tax cap law, school districts must file their tax levy limits with the state education department by March 1. The law also allows for some roll over, meaning the unused portion of the limit, such as .46 percent for Roy-Hart, can be added next year.

In Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed budget, Roy-Hart is slated to receive $11.2 million, about $281,173 less in aid than it received for the current school year.

Contact reporter Joe Olenick at 439-9222, ext. 6241.

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