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School election Tuesday: Lake Placid has same tax levy as last year

Lake Placid Middle/High School (News photo — Andy Flynn)

LAKE PLACID — The Lake Placid Central School District Board of Education hosted a virtual hearing on the district’s proposed 2021-22 budget on Tuesday, May 4.

The district’s annual budget vote is slated for Tuesday, May 18. Polls will be open at the Lake Placid Elementary School and at the Wilmington Community Center from 2 to 9 p.m. Voters who want to vote by absentee ballot can contact Angelopoulos at lpdistrictclerk@lakeplacidcsd.net for more information. Voters who want more information on the budget can view the entire budget document on the school’s website at www.lpcsd.org.

Also on the ballot, voters will see three candidates for three school board seats: Daniel Cash, Martha Prichard Spear and Colleen Locke. All three are incumbents. While all three will be elected, the two with the most votes will win full three-year terms while the third-place finisher will get a one-year unexpired term, which Cash is currently filling.

At past budget hearings, parents and community members could voice their opinions in person. This year, because of pandemic-related capacity limits, people were directed to email comments and questions rather than join the board’s teleconference call.

No comments on the budget were emailed ahead of the hearing, nor after the hearing as of Thursday morning, according to district Clerk Karen Angelopoulos.

Superintendent Roger Catania and school board President Richard Preston presented details of the proposed 2021-22 budget during the hearing.

If the budget is approved by voters as is, the district plans to spend $20,731,143 in the next school year. That’s an increase of 3.77% over the current fiscal year — mostly because of salary increases and BOCES expenses — but the district isn’t planning to increase taxes. Instead, the district intends to use $488,570 from its reserves and $315,542 in federal aid from December’s coronavirus aid package, and levy the same amount of taxes from property owners as it did this year, $16,710,000.

That would translate to a tentative tax rate of $7.25 per $1,000 in assessed value. For a person with a home assessed at $300,000, that would mean school taxes of around $2,175. This rate could change when Essex County releases updated tax rolls.

The state tax cap for the district this year was 1.68%, but the zero-percent tax levy increase in this proposed budget would fall well below that. The estimated basic School Tax Relief (STAR) exemption would be $217.

Included in the budget is funding for free meals for all students, a special education teacher and teaching assistant position, a new district computer server and summer school programs, on top of existing services for students and families. Of the district’s total expenses next year, 78.6% would be used for educational programs for students, 13.74% for capital improvements and updates to school buildings, and 13.74% for administrative costs, according to Catania’s presentation.

Keene Central School District has proposed a more than $6.7 million budget for the upcoming school year that carries a tax levy increase of 7.67%. This does meet the state tax cap, which was set at 7.67% for the district.

Also on the ballot will be one seat for the Board of Education. Aaron Miller has declined to seek reelection. There is one candidate to replace him: Emily Reynolds Bergh.

Bergh is originally from Keene, and she attended Keene Central School as a child. She has two children attending school at KCS now. For the past 13 years, Bergh has worked in marketing and public relations. She has a master’s degree in social work.