BKW voters approve $25.6M budget with 3.2-percent tax increase

HILLTOWNS — Berne-Knox-Westerlo voters approved their school district’s proposed budget and, for the fourth year in a row, cast ballots for uncontested school board candidates, re-upping the three-year terms of incumbents Nathan Elble and Kimberly Lovell.

The $25.6 million budget, with its 3.2-percent tax increase, was approved 269-to-85. Elble received 295 votes, while Lovell received 289, with just six write-ins. Voters also authorized a roughly $644,000 school-bus purchase.

Budget and board votes at BKW have been tame in recent years, thanks to low tax increases (and some decreases) and no-contest elections. 

The tax increase of the 2023-24 budget is due primarily to rising insurance costs, which the district had been able to negotiate down somewhat from where they stood at the earliest public stages of the budget process. 

The state-set tax cap for the district this year was 4.1 percent.

More Hilltowns News

  • Berne Planning Board Chairman Joe Martin will be running for town board to replace Deputy Supervisor Anita Clayton, who is not seeking re-election. Town board member Al Thiem is hoping to secure his first full term on the board, and Jeff Harvey is aiming to replace Justice Al Zuk. 

  • Joseph, a Democrat, had been denied his party’s line after a court ruled that many of the signatures on his Democratic nominating petition were invalid. He will nevertheless appear on his own party line, Hilltowns First, along with the Working Families line as he challenges incumbent Chris Smith, a Conservative with GOP backing. 

  • CanCode founder and Chief Executive Officer Annmarie Lanesey said that the 30 or so people in attendance at Knox’s broadband focus group represented “probably the biggest turnout” she had seen at such an event, and was useful as CanCode works to funnel rural data to New York state so it can direct connectivity funding more effectively.

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