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Lake Placid schools propose 2.1% tax hike
May 10, 2019

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LAKE PLACID - The proposed $19.2 million Lake Placid Central School District budget carries a tax increase of roughly 2.1%.

The first of two public hearings was held Tuesday, evening, May 7, in the Wilmington Community Center. The other will be held at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 14 at the school administrative building in Lake Placid.

Under the district's proposal, the tax rate per $1,000 in assessed value would increase from $6.85 to $7. For a person whose home is assessed at $200,000, this would translate to a tax increase of $30, to $1,400.

Though there are 10 retirements this year, all positions would be refilled and no staff reductions are expected, according to district Business Manager Dana Wood.

"It's a pretty lean budget, maintaining all programs and services while keeping expenses down," he said.

The amount of taxes the district intends to collect, or levy, would increase by 2.1%, from $15,590,253 to $15,917,089.

That is the maximum increase allowed by the state without blowing through the tax cap set for the district.

The district Board of Education approved the district's preliminary budget April 23.

"We are proud to present this budget that remains at the property tax cap," said Richard Preston, president of the Lake Placid Central School Board of Education.

Expenses are projected to increase by half a percent, or $95,966, from $19,388,637 to $19,292,671.

That's in part due to the continued rise of employee benefit costs. Last year the district spent $5,550,244 on health care and benefits for its roughly 170 staffers.

This year the total cost is projected at $5,701,540 - or 29.4% of the school's total expenses.

Polls will be open May 21 from 2 to 9 p.m. at the Lake Placid Elementary School cafeteria and the Wilmington Community Center.

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Ballot propositions, school board elections

There will be three propositions on the ballot this year.

One asks the voters to authorize an increase in the annual contribution to the Wilmington E.M. Cooper Memorial Public Library from $13,500 to $14,250. Wood said this is due to an increase in expenses at the library.

Another request is for the district be allowed to lease three 64-passenger school buses for $58,500 per year for the next five years. These would replace existing buses, according to Wood.

The last is a procedural resolution to authorize the district's budget.

Two seats carrying three-year terms on the school board are up for election. The incumbents, Preston and Bryan Liam Kennelly, are the only candidates running to fill those seats.

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Capital project expenses

Voters approved a $19.16 million capital project in 2017. Though the financial impact was expected to hit the budget this year with an annual debt service of roughly $1.62 million, Wood said project costs will begin to factor in next year.

The district plans to implement a variety of infrastructure improvements, including window, door, roofing, light fixture, exterior masonry and steel replacements; the reconstruction of deteriorated pavement, concrete retaining walls and sidewalks; the upgrading of electrical, heating and air conditioning, and plumbing systems; and the resurfacing of the track at the North Elba Show Grounds.

"The plan is to start some of the projects this year," Wood said. "The hope is to finish up next October or November."

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