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

  • The Berne-Knox-Westerlo Board of Education needs more than 60 percent of district residents to vote “yes” for a tax-cap piercing budget on June 18, or else will have to move to a contingency budget that could result in cuts to after-school and athletic programs, among others. 

  • Thomas F. Conover, a 35-year-old man from Westerlo, was told to leave a gathering of people at a Westerlo home, only to return with a shotgun, which he aimed at several people, including children, according to the New York State Police. 

  • Two town board members are already in opposition, with one, Josh Beers, saying he feels the savings is too minor and that it could be motivated by political vendettas. Supervisor Matthew Kryzak, who made the proposal and said there had been conversations about this as far back as 2021, denies this. A public hearing is scheduled for June 18 at 6 p.m.

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