Sullivan County Democrat
Callicoon, New York
March 1, 2013 Issue
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Schools struggle with tax levy limit

By Dan Hust
SULLIVAN COUNTY — Tuesday, May 15 is the day to have your say in the fiscal future of local government – in this case, public schools.
Sullivan County’s eight school districts will be holding their annual budget and board votes on that day, and we’ve collected the info you need to know before walking into the polling place.
On Friday, we’ll take a look at Monticello, Roscoe, Sullivan West and Tri-Valley.
Please note that to vote you must be at least 18 years of age, a U.S. citizen, a registered voter (with the county’s Board of Elections or, if you wish, just with the district), and a legal resident of the school district for at least the past 30 days.
So have a look, then have your say!

Eldred’s proposed budget for 2012-2013 – $15,918,581 – is a little more than $600,000 less than the current year’s.
To achieve the estimated two percent tax levy increase (which meets the state-imposed property tax cap), costs were reduced across the board, and that includes personnel.
One teaching position, two teaching assistant positions, three classroom aide positions, one custodial position and a part-time bus driver position will no longer be funded, though Superintendent Robert Dufour said only the custodian and bus driver cuts will be actual layoffs (the rest are through retirements and attrition).
“We worked diligently this year to reduce costs,” Dufour affirmed. “... Our budget is the lowest it’s been since 2007-2008.”
Board President Doug Reiser is running to retain the seat he currently holds on the board of education for another five years, though he is being challenged by candidate Paul Clark Jr.
Voters will also be asked to make two other decisions: to allow the district to collect the Sunshine Free Library’s $13,000 annual tax levy (up $1,000 over last year), and to authorize the board to annually appoint a current Eldred student as a non-voting board member, in order to better represent the student body.
Polls will be open at the Eldred Junior-Senior High School on Route 55 in Eldred from 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
More information can be obtained by calling the district at 456-1100, ext. 5296 or 5146, or logging on to

Fallsburg has proposed a 2012-2013 budget totalling $35,543,247, exactly the same as the current year’s.
And thanks to the application of more than $1.5 million in surplus (fund balance), there is no estimated tax levy increase either – and no staff or programs are being cut.
Superintendent Ivan Katz confirmed that four positions are being eliminated upon the retirement of the involved employees: teachers in high school English Language Arts and math, and elementary reading and teaching.
Three new positions, however, are being created: speech, special ed. and elementary math Academic Intervention Services.
Board members Robert Leventoff, Valerie Sitz-Mahmoud and Shawn Wiles are running for re-election to their three-year seats. Only Leventoff is opposed, by candidate Sonia Ward.
Two other propositions will be on the ballot. One is for permission to establish a capital reserve fund, which could hold up to $5 million to go towards building projects.
The other is for the funding of an already-established repair reserve fund by up to $500,000 from the district’s fund balance.
Neither proposition will result in additional taxes or borrowing of any kind, said Katz.
Voters are welcome between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. at the Fallsburg High School Library on County Route 52 in Fallsburg.
For more information, call the district at 434-6800, ext. 1214 or ext. 1219, or log on to

Coming in at $40,205,667, Liberty’s proposed 2012-2013 budget is just $199,018 higher than last year’s, despite the loss of a grant and some state aid.
Taxes are projected to rise two percent, in keeping with the state-mandated property tax increase cap.
Layoffs are not avoided in this budget, with three teacher assistants, two teacher aides and one clerk/typist losing their jobs.
A custodian, elementary guidance counselor, driver’s ed. teacher, technical data specialist and another teacher aide are either retiring or leaving their positions, and those spots won’t be filled.
Programs will get hit, too, with summer school and late bus runs reduced and the elimination of varsity girls tennis and field trips.
Daniel Parkhurst and Cindy Prince are running unopposed to retain their three-year seats on the school board, while Sheila Parks is the sole candidate aiming for retiring board member David Burke’s seat.
The Liberty High School’s gymnasium on Buckley Street in Liberty will host the vote from noon to 9 p.m.
For more information, log on to or call 292-6171, ext. 2060.

Livingston Manor
At $14,704,248, Livingston Manor’s proposed budget for 2012-2013 is $10,712 lower than the current year’s.
There is a tax levy increase, however, projected to be 2 percent, under the state-mandated property tax increase cap.
Unlike last year, there are no layoffs planned, said Interim Business Administrator Larry Lawrence. Ironically, it’s a vacancy in the business office that won’t be filled, with accounting duties shifted over to BOCES’ Central Business Office.
Thanks to $100,000 in savings from rerouting buses, no program cuts are necessary, said Lawrence. In fact, field trips and a full sports program have been reintroduced in this proposed budget.
“We’ve added money into the budget for training and staff development to meet educational mandates,” Lawrence added.
Two positions are up for grabs on the board, each for three-year terms. The top two vote-getters will earn the seats.
Candidates are incumbent Claire Taggart, Jason Gorr and Jamie M. Bowers. (Incumbent Sandra Owen-Kelly is not seeking re-election.)
One proposition voters will not see this year is the Livingston Manor Free Library’s budget approval. The library board opted to have a vote separate from the school district’s. The library will host its own budget vote on June 26 from 12-8 p.m.
Meanwhile, school district voters can have their say in the elementary school’s library in Livingston Manor from 10 a.m.-8 p.m.
For more information, contact the district at 439-4400 or log on to

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