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Harrison Residents Weigh School Budget, Tax Cap

HARRISON, N.Y. – Harrison residents are questioning how the Harrison Central School District will keep its caliber of education, knowing the future is uncertain with the state imposing a 2 percent tax cap last year on both municipal and school taxes.

“In my view, school districts are already working on limited budgets,” said Harrison resident Scott Jensen. “Part of the goals of the tax cap should be to find alternative ways to fund education. If people want to spend more money on their schools than the tax cap allows, so be it.”

Like all school districts statewide, the Harrison Central School District is no longer allowed to raise the tax levy by more than 2 percent per year. But the tax cap does have exemptions. Pension costs above a 2 percent increase are exempt from the tax cap as are any court awards from personal liability cases. Taxes can also be raised above 2 percent if voters approve capital expenditures for the schools.

Resident Eve Slater, who has a second-grader in the district, doesn’t think that the tax cap is as simple as the state says it is. Slater said the tax cap could help in some ways but it is ultimately up to the school district to spend its money “wisely.”

“We are always afraid that there are going to be cuts to education,” Slater said. “Some older residents in town might not vote for it because it doesn’t directly affect their children but it doesn’t mean that taxes still won’t keep going up.”

Though resident Maria Kuthy does not have any children in the school district, she said she is supportive of its education. Kuthy said that the problem with most school budgets is the amount of money paid for overhead costs. Still, she doesn’t think that the tax cap is that bad of an idea.

“It’s very good for elderly people who live on fixed incomes,” Kuthy said. “With the money the schools have they should be fine if they are well-managed.”

But not every Harrison residents thinks the 2 percent tax cap will be effective.

“The schools always say they never have enough money,” resident Claudia Fletcher said. “I think the tax cap should be set at 1 percent.”

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