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MORE STATE AID HOLDS DOWN TAX INCREASE

The Alden School Board has adopted a $27 million budget for the coming school year.

The proposed budget carries an estimated tax increase of only a half of 1 percent. Superintendent Donald Raw praised the state for finally passing a budget on time last week, while reporting that the district will receive more state aid than anticipated.

While the figures are still being finalized, the district is expected to receive $79,000 more in aid this year for a total of $380,000.

With the additional revenue, the School Board must decide whether to restore some of the $200,000 in cuts for staffing and equipment or lessen the tax impact on property owners.

Raw recommended that the board do both and suggested they restore a data coordinator position and commit to a two-year summer program for remedial help.

"It doesn't mean that (the board) needs to make those commitments right now," Raw said. "A budget is a plan, so if you decide to do or not do something, it effects the bottom line."

Raw said the district is now analyzing each revenue line on the aid to make sure it's correct.

"It puts us ahead of a time schedule that we typically face," Raw said. However, he said some of the data the state uses to estimate aid may be out of date.

Because parts of the district extend into several neighboring towns, the tax rate will be different for each municipality.

But Business Administrator Carol Ranke said that when the entire assessment base is considered, taxes are estimated to increase 9 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation.

In the past two years, the budget process in Alden has been considerably easier than it was even three years ago. The School Board spent several years struggling to control tax increases that bordered on double digits, but as a result of long-term financial planning, it lowered taxes last year by 1.2 percent.

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