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Fund balance allows School Board to cut tax levy for Holland district

In a 4-3 vote, the Holland School Board has approved a proposal to reduce the 2009-10 tax levy by $1.4 million.

The move was made possible by the fund balance from 2008-09. School officials say the unspent dollars accumulated as a result of reduced spending initiated in February 2009 in consideration of the state budget crisis and the troubled economy.

During a special meeting of the board, interim School Superintendent David F. Kurzawa presented four options for what to do with the extra funds. Each would offer some reduction in the tax levy but also set aside dollars for one of the following: a future capital project, anticipated retirement cost increases, reduction of long-term debt for school bus purchases, or purchase of new buses with cash instead of bonding.

Though Kurzawa backed those choices, the board decided to return the entire sum to the taxpayers. Trustees Ronda L. Strauss, Michael W. Liddle and Steven T. Marom opposed the action.

State education guidelines recommend that a district keep no more than 4 percent of unexpended funds on its books. Last year, the district did not have enough money left over to exceed that mark, Senior Account Clerk Joanne M. George said Friday.

However, the $1.4 million this year is above the recommended 4 percent. The district will keep 4 percent, or $761,417, on the books, which is in line with auditors' suggestions.

By choosing to use the unexpended fund balance in this way, the board has reduced the tax levy by 26 percent, or $1.9 million, George said. The total tax levy is $5.6 million.

The resulting tax rates per $1,000 of assessed value are: Aurora, $27.53; Colden, $25.12; Concord, $24.59; Holland, $11.91; Sardinia, $19.92; Wales, $25.68; and Java and Sheldon, $14.73

The board also approved its goals for 2009-10 with a 7-0 vote. They call for providing a more understandable budget to the board and the community while taking advantage of "all cost-cutting means available to it."

It also plans for the district to exceed New York State learning standards, as measured by student assessment tests, by June 2011.

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