DELMAR — The Bethlehem Central school board will host a public hearing tonight, May 5, at 7 p.m. on its proposed $102 million budget for next year.
The meeting will be held at the high school, however, there will be no outside visitors. The meeting will be broadcast live on YouTube Video broadcast for the meeting can be found here beginning at 6:55 p.m.
Residents of the district can submit comments ahead of time by emailing [email protected].
Comments and questions about the budget will be accepted until the hearing portion of the meeting has concluded.
The proposed 2021-22 budget would reduce overall spending by 1.4 percent and carry a tax levy increase of less than one percent, an amount below the district’s tax cap. Tax rates in both the town of Bethlehem and the town of New Scotland are expected to decrease as a result of growth in local assessment values.
The proposed budget for the coming school year was adopted unanimously by the Board of Education at its April 14 meeting.
The proposed 2021-22 budget totals $102,037,000, a $1,449,000 decrease compared to the current budget.
To help balance the budget, the plan includes a proposed 0.75 percent tax levy increase, totaling $515,000, an amount below the district’s calculated tax cap. The district is also planning to use $390,000 of fund balance to keep the levy below one percent.
In addition to the budget, district voters will decide upon a series of bus propositions intended to upgrade the district’s fleet and safety features.
There is a $1.475 million bus purchase proposition to replace nine large buses. At least five of the potential new buses would be fully electrict.
There is also a $200,000 electric bus infrastruction proposition.
A third proposition would provide GPS/Telematics on all school buses, at a maximum cost of $210,000.
Spending for instructional and other programs in the proposed 2021-22 budget is largely unchanged. The overall decrease in the budget over the current year is due to a $2.7 million decrease in debt service payments. The proposed 2021-22 budget would maintain all current staffing and resources and would preserve all student opportunities in academics, student support and extracurricular activities.
The recently enacted New York state budget will provide the district with an unexpected boost in state aid. The net state aid increase to Bethlehem is $709,000 for 2021-22. This amount is reflected in the balanced budget plan. Foundation aid — which is the state aid that can be used for general operating expenses — will actually increase by $1,068,000 in 2021-22. The Foundation Aid increase was offset by reductions in other expense-based aids, in particular, building aid. The reduction in the state building aid was anticipated based on significantly lower debt service costs the district will have in 2021-22.
District voters are to vote polls on Tuesday, May 18.