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Approved budget raises levy 3.42%

The Iroquois Central School Board gave unanimous approval to a $43.5 million budget for 2012-13 with a projected tax levy increase of 3.42 percent.

The estimated tax increase for a property valued at $100,000 would be $54.

Though scenarios with higher and lower tax levies were discussed, the vote Wednesday came after Superintendent Douglas Scofield recommended the 3.42 percent plan because, he said, it provided the best balance among various groups in the community, from those who wanted more programs brought back to those who wanted little or no tax increase.

The budget includes clubs and modified sports that were cut from last year's budget, but it uses about $300,000 more in reserves than are called for this year. Scofield, the former business administrator for the district, said he did not make that move lightly.

"My rule of thumb is never use more than half a percent on the levy," he said.

He cautioned against creating a "cliff year," the result of a district lowering taxes by a heavy use of reserves one year, causing a spike in the tax rate the next. He said he did not believe the additional $300,000 applied to next year's budget would have that effect.

Following the board's approval of the spending plan, discussion quickly turned to getting the word out on the May 15 vote.

Board member Suzanne Wolff asked the superintendent for flyers of the budget highlights, plus locations of where he was planning to deliver budget presentations.

"I'm willing to go door-to-door to my neighbors. I don't want to see [the budget] go down again," Wolff said.

Board member Nickole Garrison asked for the same information but in an electronic format, so she could email the budget highlights to residents who approached her with questions.

At the meeting, two other propositions were approved for the May ballot.

Proposition No. 2 is for the purchase of three buses with an estimated maximum cost of $360,000, less trade-in value.

Proposition No. 3 is to expend $60,000 from the Technology Reserve Fund for computer hardware, software and equipment. It also authorizes the board to transfer a maximum of $450,000 from the unappropriated fund balance to the Repair Reserve Fund for repairs and/or equipment.