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Hilltowns Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, June 2, 2005

Back to the booth: New BKW budget to be voted on again

By Matt Cook

BERNE—After a narrow defeat last month, the Berne-Knox-Westerlo School District will put up a slightly smaller budget for a re-vote, on June 14.

At an emergency meeting last Wednesday, the school board voted unanimously to cut $50,000 from the $17.6 million budget proposal for next year that lost by 17 votes on May 17.

The district had two other options: accepting the loss and adopting a state-capped budget or putting the same budget up for re-vote without changes.

"There was a feeling among the board members that they didn’t want to put the same budget up," said Superintendent Steven Schrade. "That would be insulting to the members of the public that voted no."

The original budget proposal called for a 6.2-percent increase over this year’s budget. Although that’s only $110,769 over the state-capped plan—an increase of 5.5 percent—the district wanted to preserve certain budget items that would be lost if the remaining $60,000 above the cap were cut, Schrade said.

A number of district residents spoke to board members about those items, he said, which include a 3:30 p.m. late-bus run on Wednesdays, and a subsidy for the school-lunch program.

"The board wants to make sure that the school-lunch program is able to still keep open," Schrade said.

The late bus, Schrade said, was cut from this year’s budget, and a lot of parents want it restored.

The $50,000 that will be cut includes:

—$10,000 to fix windows in the bus garage;

—$5,000 for Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) programs;

—$15,000 for supplies; and

—$20,000 for health insurance.

On the health insurance, Schrade said some employees have switched to cheaper plans between now and when the budget was proposed.

With the cuts, the budget is now at 5.9 percent over this year’s. It carries a 4.9 percent tax-levy increase. The sate-capped budget would have a 4.3 percent tax-levy increase.

The tax rate increase, Schrade said, would average between 4 and 4.5 percent, depending on the town.

A public hearing on the changes to the budget proposal will be held at the regular school board meeting on June 6.

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