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Lisbon debates 4 and 5 percent tax levy increases

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LISBON – At Thursday’s Board of Education meeting members debated the benefits of higher and lower tax levies but decided to hold off on a decision, hoping the state will deliver more aid to the district.

The state’s final budget for 2013-2014 is due April 1.

The Board is considering a 4-percent increase in the tax levy, raising $3,121,927, or a 5.08 percent increase that would raise $3,154,494.

A 4-percent increase would result in a $173,164 shortfall while a 5.08-percent increase would result in a $140,597 shortfall.

“One of the Board’s goals is to keep a consistent tax rate,” Lisbon Central School Superintendent Erin E. Woods said.

But Ms. Woods also noted the district isn’t receiving enough state aid.

Lisbon is projected to receive $6.3 million in state aid, an increase of $127,056 over last year.

Ms. Woods said operating costs, including pensions, are increasing faster than revenue streams.

Lisbon will not be replacing two retiring positions this year in an effort to save money.

“We can’t continue to cut programs, cut staff and have a negative impact on our students,” Ms. Woods said. “We have to have a good balance.”

Advocating a 5.08-percent increase, Ms. Woods said tax payers “would feel it, but it’s not horrible…. The smaller the shortfall, the better in terms of staff and students.”

Vice President of the Board Larry Doyle said, “I don’t want to have to pay any more taxes than I absolutely have to but $140,000 is easier to come up with than $173,000. What are we going to do if we have to start cutting more people?”

But support for increasing the levy by 5.08 percent faltered when Board President Blake P. Gendebien said, “The 4 percent is important to me.”

Mr. Gendebien noted the Board has traditionally kept the tax levy increase under 4 percent a year and said he wants to do everything to keep it there for the 2013-2014 school year.

Business Manager Wendy S. White said she would keep looking at the budget to see what she can find.

Ms. Woods said the school will look into raising the levy by 4.5 percent.

Board Member Scott Walker said, “If it’s just under five [percent] it might be easier to pass [the budget].”

Lisbon Central School is looking at a $12.2 million proposed budget for 2013-2014.

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