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New Lebanon school district proposing 6 percent tax levy increase due to 2020 error

May 07, 2021 6:00 am

Aliya Schneider is reporting for Columbia-Greene Media property owners in the New Lebanon school district are looking at a 6 percent tax levy increase for the 2021- 22 school year as the result of an accounting error, according to officials. The tax levy increase is capped at 0.37 percent, based on the state tax cap formula, but a 6 percent hike is necessary to make up for a shortfall in the budget caused by an error that led to undercharging taxpayers in 2020, that lost the district $382,000 in revenue. The district used nearly $429,000 from its fund balance for the 2020-21 budget, contributing to a $990,000 shortfall in the 2021-22 spending plan, according to District Superintendent Andrew Kourt. Because the proposed 6 percent increase exceeds the tax cap, the district will require a supermajority, or 60 percent of its voters, to approve its budget. Otherwise, the district could see extra-curricular cuts. Kourt advised district residents in February about the error: “... During the 2020-2021 school year the New Lebanon Central School District was scheduled to collect a total of $8,492,589 in school taxes, but instead $8,109,458 was collected. This has resulted in approximately 4.5 percent less [in] taxes collected than was levied.” Taxpayers in the New Lebanon district have not seen a tax increase since 2012. The budget breakdown includes $4 million for instruction, $1 million for special education, $3.6 million for benefits, $154,500 for technology, $762,629 for general support, $917,091 for operations and maintenance, $156,900 for co-curricular and athletics, $716,200 for transportation, $559,882 for debt service and $55,000 for inter-fund transfers. The $11.8 million school renovation project completed in the fall is separate from the annual school budget vote, Kourt said. The superintendent said this week he is “cautiously optimistic” the budget will pass, emphasizing the need for people to get out and vote. If the budget does not get supermajority approval on May 18, the board of education will call a special meeting for May 19 or 20 to assess the next steps. The annual budget vote and school board elections will be held on May 18. District residents will vote this year at the junior/senior high school because of COVID-19 restrictions, Kourt said. Read the full story at HudsonValley360 [dot] com.

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