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SRF rent reduction request rejected

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WAVERLY - St. Regis Falls Central School board members had high hopes that the Waverly Town Council would reduce the rent it charges the district for use of its garage, but those hopes were shot down by town officials on Monday.

“Last year, as a gesture, we did lower the garage lease from $25,000 to $22,500,” said Town Supervisor Michael Bailey. “This year, they’re requesting to lower it to $20,000, I don’t believe we should do that.”

The board in February 2013 agreed to lower the cost of rent due to “horrific pressure with budgets,” Bailey previously said.

Monday wasn’t the first time town board members were faced with the same request.

Town Councilman Ernest Witkowski said in 2013 that the school board wanted to reduce the rent to $20,000 “for the two successive years following [2013]” and enter into a three-year agreement.

Mr. Witkowski said he and other board members were opposed to the idea of reducing the rent to $20,000, as it was not seen as fiscally wise.

“They’re having the same problem we’re having, it’s costing money to heat,” said Town Councilman Adam Cox on Monday. “So, we’re not going to take a loss because they’re taking a loss too.”

“Given the propane bills that I looked at [Monday], there is no way I could recommend going for $20,000,” Mr. Witkowski added.

Town Councilman Lawrence Cheney said he didn’t want to put “another $2,500 on our taxpayers.”

“This goes throughout the district this way,” he said.

The St. Regis Falls school district serves about 325 students who live in the towns of Dickinson, Santa Clara and Waverly in Franklin County and Hopkinton and Lawrence in St. Lawrence County.

“We’ve got to enter into an agreement anyway,” Mr. Bailey said, adding that the lease will still show the cost at $22,500.

Town Highway Superintendent Harold Fraser said the school district is using 24 or 25 gallons of propane a day, “at $3 a gallon ... to heat that bus garage.”

The current contract began on July 1, 2013 and is valid until June 30.

The rent money is distributed into the town’s general fund and pays for heating, lighting and maintenance costs of the building.

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