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Sackets Harbor Central approves capital reserve proposition

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SACKETS HARBOR — After years of freezing teachers’ wages and making program cuts, Sackets Harbor Central School wants to start its own rainy day fund.

The Board of Education last week approved adding a $2 million capital reserve proposition to the school budget ballot.

“Over the last five or six years, we have been in survival mode,” Superintendent Frederick E. Hall Jr. said. “We now are five years out from the last time we did a capital project.”

He said there is not a project in the works at the moment, but this would help bring down the local tax share if one were established. “Our community has been so supportive of the district,” Mr. Hall said.

According to education law, voter authorization is needed to establish a capital reserve, he said. To save money, the district will add it to the budget ballot in May rather than have a separate referendum date.

Capital reserves may be used only for items that have to be bonded, and most likely would be used for a capital project if one were needed five or 10 years from now.

If voters approve the capital reserve, the school will squirrel away any leftover funds it has at the end of the year into it. According to Mr. Hall, that may mean nothing is added in a bad year, and it will not come at a cost to teacher salaries and other items in the operating budget. When the district wants to take out money, the proposition must be taken to the voters again.

The reserve amount will not exceed $2 million.

The board members agreed unanimously that the reserve should be established to provide a cushion in case the school needs funds to do maintenance or repairs.

“It makes sense,” board member Dale Phillips said.

Board member Stephen L. Swain said the reserve likely would be used for boiler replacements and roof repairs.

“It’s like having a savings account,” he said. “Like you said, this is not to put in a swimming pool. The voter safeguard is they get to vote whether it’s a good idea or not.”

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