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The Alden Central School Board set 1998-99 tax rates for the six towns of its district Thursday night.

Because of equalization rates -- ranging from below 70 percent to over 100 percent -- from one town to another, the tax rates also vary. The difference is as much as $10.88 per $1,000 of assessed valuation.

"They're all going to end up paying the same in taxes," said Business Administrator John Cecchini. "It's crazy, and most people don't understand it."

Newstead has what looks like the lowest tax rate at $15.71 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. This is because no adjustment is needed, with most houses in the town selling at or above their assessed valuation, said Cecchini.

The rate in Darien is actually the truest with a 100 percent equalization rate established by the state. At $19.51 per $1,000, this is also the average tax rate in the district.

With all rates representing a roughly 3 percent tax hike, other rates are: in Alden and Marilla, $23.46 per $1,000; for Lancaster, $19.37; and in Bennington, $26.59.

Made before final assessments were in, the most accurate tax rate projection was for Alden, falling just nine cents under Cecchini's best guess in May.

He said that the numbers come in closest for Alden largely because it makes up 80 percent of the district's total taxable property. This, plus the skilled help of town assessor Joseph Holcolm, helps produce more accurate estimates, said Cecchini.

"We're pretty consistent here," he said. "It's not like that everywhere. Assessor's offices are very, very independent."

In other business the board:

Accepted the resignation of high school English teacher Deanna Cotton.

Appointed art teachers Judith Kosinski and Sara Pawelczak for grades K-12 and registered nurses Rosa Willett and Mary Paddock, all effective Sept. 2.

Approved the use of Alden school buses for St. John the Baptist School field trips during 1998-99, based on availability and at no cost to the district.

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