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Sherman School Board votes to increase tax levy slightly

May 1, 2017
By David Prenatt - , Westfield Republican

SHERMAN - After much debate, Sherman Central School District board of education members decided to raise the tax levy by 1.95 percent for the 2017-18 school year.

The raise is expected to generate an additional $50,000 of revenue in the $9,998,333 budget. Each board member expressed his or her opinion as to how much taxes should be raised, of if they should be raised at all.

Sherman superintendent Michael Ginestre introduced the discussion by noting that the district had a zero percent increase last year. Also, the final figure for state aid was $84,000 more than originally expected, he said. He then invited board members to share their opinion about raising the tax levy.

Board member Gary DeLellis noted that the district could raise as much as 5 percent because of exemptions in the state tax cap, but said he felt that a 2 percent increase was necessary.

"I don't think we should have less than a 2 percent increase," DeLellis said. "I think there is going to be something big with Medicare this year. I think we need to be prepared. To me, 2 percent is minimumI don't think it should be zero percent."

Board President Brian Bates opted for a zero percent increase, the same as the district did last year. "I think with the climate next door, we should come in at zero," he said, referring the possibility that Clymer and Panama school districts are considering merging.

Board member Jennifer Ferreira said she believed the district should opt for an increase of 2 or 1.95 percent. "I think we need to go up," she said. "My feeling is if we are not going to raise taxes at least 1.95 percent, then we should not raise at all."

Emily Reynolds proposed a tax increase of 1.56 percent. "I feel if you increase by 1.95 percent, people will say we kept it below 2 percent just to look good. That's why I feel we should go 1.56 percent," she said. "A zero percent increase could put the district in a bad position. "I think a zero percent increase two years in a row is dangerous," she said.

Coleen Meeder said she felt that a 2 percent increase would not make much of a difference, since it would only raise an additional $50,000. "We're talking minimal money here," she said. "No matter what you raise, people will say 'you're raising our taxes.' It's just not worth it."

Sherman business manager Kimberly Oehlbeck reminded board members that the amount of revenue raised by the tax levy is affected by changes in the town assessment value, which will not be certain until August. "It's all based on current assessments," she said. "Last year we did not raise taxes but the assessments went up."

Ginestre noted that the district recently drastically lowered tuition costs for students coming from outside of the district boundaries. Many people are concerned that their taxes are paying for these students, but this is not the case, he said, because the district receives state assistance for out-of-district students, he said.

The program has been successful so far, Ginestre said, and there are many new faces in the hallways. He said he expects this trend to continue, whether or not Panama and Clymer districts merge.

'The thing to consider is that the tuition program is new," Ginestre said. "People will see we have decent-sized classrooms and taxes do not go up very much."

Total expenditures rose by $381,630. Administrative costs were up $104,000, while instructional costs also increased $220,154. Transportation and buildings and grounds decreased slightly.

A public hearing as well as the board's annual meeting will be held on Monday, May 8 at 6:00 p.m. The budget will go before voters for approval on Tuesday, May 16 from noon to 9:00 p.m.



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