Canton proposes 4.6% tax increase
Canton schools face some of the worst cuts out of districts in the North Country. Monday night, the board approved a budget that cuts two dozen jobs and increases taxes. But as our Cara Thomas tells us, both district officials and community members say they're glad it's not worse.
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CANTON, N.Y. -- 24 jobs lost, 12 of which are teachers, a tax increase of more than 4.6 percent and a continuing reduction in their reserve balance. These are frightening things the Canton School District faces this upcoming year. One community member said he doesn't believe they can continue on this route.
"We're already seeing the consequences. All of these layoffs, all of these budget cuts, it's just not sustainable and I don't think the answer is tax increases," said Canton resident Brian Kerrigan.
After a very complicated formula which determines each school district's tax cap, Canton's is set at more than 4.6 percent and they plan to use every penny they can get to help fill their $3 million budget gap. Even though their tax levy is one of the highest in the county, some board members felt it could go even higher if it meant saving a few more jobs.
"I honestly don't think we're asking the public for enough personally. I really think that if we asked for it, they'll give it to us," said board member Margaret Sweeney.
But others were conscious of a new rule that says if the budget isn’t passed by the voters, the school gets one more chance to propose a second budget. If it still doesn’t pass, the school will not be allowed to raise their tax at all.
"We would be faced with having the same tax levy as we do this year which means we would have to cut an additional $350,000 out of program and staff and to me that was just too much of a risk," said Superintendent Bill Gregory.
Brian Kerrigan says going above their tax cap wouldn't have been worth it in the long rung anyway.
"Even if we go up 10 percent that's only $750,000. I don't want you to go up 10 percent because my taxes are already too high but at the end of the day it doesn't get where we have to be," said Kerrigan.
Superintendent Bill Gregory said they did all they could to fill their budget gap while still giving their students a good education. He believes Canton School District can still do that.
Voting for Canton's proposed budget will be May 15th.