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Budget Talks: Iroquois School District

Despite the state legislature’s elimination of New York’s gap elimination adjustment, the Iroquois board of education appears poised to place a conservative budget before voters next month.

Superintendent Douglas Scofield on Thursday offered a fiscal plan that doesn’t breach the tax cap levy.

Board members indicated at Thursday’s budget work session that they were comfortable with the budget.

Exceeding the cap with voter approval would allow the district to restore programs that were cut in recent years.

“I don’t think this is the year to do it,” Scofield said. “We need to be careful; we need to get to a solid footing and then carefully prioritize things we would like to put back.”

Board president Charles Specht credited the public – from Iroquois and across the state — for its persistence in asking state lawmakers to spend more on education.

“I think the legislators are finally starting to get it,” Specht said.

The budget will be formally presented at a public hearing May 10 at 6:30 p.m. in the intermediate school.

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Preliminary budget

• Proposed total budget: $47.98 million, up 0.97 percent from last year

• Proposed tax levy: $28.07 million, up 0.81 percent

• Tax levy increase allowed under tax cap: 0.81 percent

• Planning to go over tax cap? No

• What could be cut: Athletics, co-curricular activities, equipment, staff development, increased class sizes.

• What could be added: AP classes at the high school, scholars math at the middle school, six-day cycles at the primary schools to provide additional “specials” such as music and art.

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What is a tax levy?

The tax levy is the total amount in taxes collected from district residents.

What is the tax cap?

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo instituted the tax cap three years ago to help control local taxes. It’s billed as a 2 percent tax cap but is actually based on the rate of inflation. Each district’s cap is different because of a complicated formula and can be higher or lower than 2 percent. Districts need 60 percent of votes – called a super majority – to approve a budget that goes over the tax cap. They only need one vote over 50 percent for a budget below the tax cap.

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Voters go to the polls Tuesday, May 17 to approve or vote down the proposed budget and vote on candidates for school board and any propositions.

– John J. Hopkins, Suburban Correspondent