With a tax cap that allowed for only one-tenth of 1 percent increase in the tax levy, the Waterville Central School District will instead ask that voters approve a higher amount.
After an almost two-and-a-half hour discussion during a special meeting of the WCS Board of Education last week, Board members decided to go with a 2.5 percent increase in the total amount raised by property taxes. The decision by the board was 5-2, with members Tim Jones and Steve Turner voting no.
Next month’s vote will require approval by 60 percent of those who turn out to vote, rather than the simple majority of half plus one. Over the past dozen or so years WCS’s budgets have passed by comfortable margins higher than 60 percent.
This is the first time Waterville will formally need the super majority for budget approval. “We don’t take this lightly,’’ Board President Steve Stanton said.
The difference in going higher than the state tax cap allowed is that the district will have almost $136,000 more towards expenses rather than about $5,000.
All property owners will see an increase to contribute toward that $136,000.
Business Administrator Tracy Leone gave an example which speaks in general terms without specific town assessing rates or equalization rates.
A house assessed at $100,000 would pay an additional $47, or if using the Basic Star exemption, an additional $33.
The budget of $19,096,137 increases expenses for the 2021-22 year at three-quarters of 1 percent. That comes to $143,471 more than this year’s budget.
Asking for a 2.5 percent jump in the tax levy allows the district to avoid using savings to balance revenues with expenses. Although done in past years, this year the district received a rating by the State Comptroller as a district potentially in fiscal trouble because the unallocated fund balance has fallen below 4 percent.
Waterville’s fund balance, which is money that can be used for unplanned costs, is at 1.9 percent. The goal for next year, and if there is any surplus from this year, is to increase…