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District resident’s CPCS budget questions answered

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COLTON - Six days before the public weighs in on a proposed $10.28 million spending plan, one district resident notified Colton-Pierrepont Central School officials of his concerns.

Malcolm Owen, Pierrepont, said during a public hearing Wednesday that he was worried about the projected $440,000 spending increase as well as the district’s use of their appropriated fund balance.

“It seems like spending is up about 4.5 percent and basically I see $600,000 from the general fund being put in. So what is the long term strategy here?” Mr. Owen said. “Basically you’ve got a windfall of cash - that’s my understanding - because you basically collected the money and Brookfield Power didn’t want it, they just wanted to go forward with a lower payment. So did that go into general fund in which case why is it so small that we’re literally quibbling about $60,000 increase in the levy?” he wondered.

Superintendent Joseph A. Kardash said that in the settlement with Brookfield, the tax certiorari is settled on a year-by-year basis.

“It has the potential to be voided based on year-by-year requirements. So our liability on that has not completely disappeared. We still do have money in there protecting us should anything go wrong with the tax certiorari. That’s the way that it reads is a year-by-year forgiveness,” he said.

“The reason that we have appropriated more is we have a lower tax cap and because our taxpayers have taken a brunt of that tax settlement in their tax rates this past year and we were trying to be sensitive to that in keeping any levy increases to a minimum - 0.85 percent,” Mr. Kardash said.

In August, the town of Colton and Brookfield Power reached a settlement regarding the assessed values of six Erie Boulevard Hydropower owned properties in the hamlet. As a result, there will be a $30 million drop in assessment on Brookfield’s hydroelectric facilities in the town of Colton and the first reassessment in the town in more than four decades. This will mean higher taxes for most residential property owners in the municipality.

With the $60,000 tax levy increase, the total would be $7,120,000.

“So the levy increase of $60,000 - why did you decide that you’d even bother with $60,000?” Mr. Owen said.

“We don’t want to put ourselves on a dead end road of spending more money than we have in the bank. So when we become dependent on using our savings to operate, at some point you have to come out of that pattern so the deeper you go in that pattern, the more difficult it is to come out,” Mr. Kardash said.

“To put it into a household equivalent, if your monthly expenditures are larger than your monthly revenue, the larger that is the faster your savings is gone. We don’t want to make it larger than necessary,” he said.

The total state aid for the district will be $2,490,000, up from last year’s total of $2,350,000.

The district’s budget for the 2013-14 school year is $9,840,000, and the proposed increase would represent a 4.47 percent spike in spending.

Incumbent board members Jeffery Angleberger and Kayc Stone are being challenged by Cindy McLean for the two open seats on the school board.

The polls will be open from noon to 8 p.m. Tuesday.

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