$22.4M budget for LPCSD proposed

Public hearing on budget is Tuesday, vote is May 21

LAKE PLACID — The Lake Placid Central School District Board of Education is proposing to increase spending and taxes in its $22.4 million proposed budget. The district’s 2024-25 budget would stay within the state’s tax cap.

The district is proposing to spend $22.4 million in 2024-25, a 3% increase from $21,746,602 in 2023-24. The majority of the budget will be funded by taxes. The district proposes to levy $17,757,146 in taxes from district taxpayers in 2024-25, which is $579,869 more than this year’s budgeted levy of $17,177,277. This 3.38% increase is below the state’s assigned tax cap for the district for 2024-25, which was $17,770,857, a 3.45% increase.

Tax rates will be around $5.61 per $1,000 in assessed value in both North Elba and Wilmington, up from last year’s rate of $5.44 per $1,000 in assessed value in North Elba and down from $6.79 per $1,000 in assessed value in Wilmington. This year, it’s expected that both towns will have the same tax rate.

Under this proposed tax rate, someone with a home assessed at $200,000 in the towns of North Elba and Wilmington would pay around $1,122 in school taxes. With a basic STAR exemption, someone with a $200,000 home would pay $953.70. With an enhanced STAR exemption, someone with a $200,000 home would pay $723.69. These tax rates are estimates until they are finalized in August.

The district proposes to use $843,853 from its reserves to help cover proposed expenses for the 2024-25 school year, down 15.6% from last year’s $1 million in reserve fund use. Fund balance accounts for 4% of the revenue underpinning the proposed budget.

The school board faced uncertainty as it prepared the district’s proposed budget this year due to the state budget passage being delayed and Gov. Kathy Hochul’s executive budget proposal to change the formula for school foundation aid.

Hochul’s foundation aid proposal, which was eliminated in the state Legislature’s enacted budget, would’ve taken away $617,000 in foundation aid from LPCSD and nearly $2.9 million across the Tri-Lakes region. The state budget was passed on April 20, 19 days after its original April 1 deadline and just two days before the school board was set to adopt its budget before sending it to voters. Assistant Superintendent for Business, Finance and Support Services Dana Wood said in January that the school board had to proceed through the budgeting process assuming the budget cuts were going to happen, then adjust accordingly if the cuts didn’t go through.

According to the school board’s proposed budget, which was adopted on April 22, the district anticipates $3,306,359 in state aid, up from $3,217,423 last year. This is in line with previous years’ increases rather than Hochul’s proposed aid changes.

The proposed budget, which includes a sample ballot, can be viewed at tinyurl.com/muta3yax.

Hearing and vote

There will be one budget hearing this year, at the Wilmington Town Offices on Tuesday at 6 p.m.

In past years, there have been budget hearings in both Wilmington and Lake Placid. The board has switched to a system of one yearly hearing that alternates locations, which means the only budget hearing is Tuesday’s in Wilmington. Next year, the hearing will be in Lake Placid.

The school budget vote is May 21, and there are typically polling stations in both Lake Placid and Wilmington.

Ballot propositions

In addition to the budget vote, LPCSD voters will get the opportunity to vote on two propositions — one to purchase three gas-powered buses and another to increase funding for Wilmington’s E.M. Cooper Memorial Library.

Bus propositions are on the ballot nearly every year in Lake Placid, but typically these propositions are to lease buses. This new proposition would, if approved, authorize the school board to purchase two 68-passenger school buses and one 65-passenger school bus. Under this proposition, the buses would be fully paid off in five years at a cost no higher than $41,000 per bus — or $123,000 total — per year.

Wood said at the school board’s April 16 meeting that the proposed budget’s 3.38% tax increase is a “direct result” of the board’s proposal to purchase school buses instead of leasing them.

LPCSD currently leases its school buses on three to five year cycles, spending about $105,000 yearly on bus leases, according to Wood. With a state deadline to switch to electric buses on the horizon, though, the school board decided to move toward purchasing buses instead of leasing them as a way to operate with a hybrid fleet instead of making a hard transition to an all-electric fleet.

“Over the next couple years, we will purchase enough buses so that we would have half our fleet would be gas, and then come 2027, we start buying the EV buses,” Wood said at the board’s March 19 meeting. “We would use the gas power to do our long route trips and use our EV buses to do our daily runs until the (EV) technology catches up.”

If approved, the library proposition would increase Wilmington’s public library funding by $634, from $16,735 to $17,369.

Board elections

Two seats are open this year on the LPCSD school board, and the school board race is uncontested. Board member Colleen Locke is running for re-election, while board president Daniel Cash is not. Don Mellor, retired school counselor at Northwood School, is running for the open seat.


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