RIPLEY - Ripley Central School Board of Education tentatively approved a budget for the coming year that includes a 4.9 percent decrease in the tax levy.
If approved by voters on May 20, the $8,681,652 budget includes an estimated tax rate of $26.63 per $1,000 of assessed property value. This constitutes a decrease of $1.50 from the current year.
The decrease could be even greater, according to board member Ted Rickenbrode. The final figure won't be determined until August when the state aid is finalized, he said.
Rickenbrode said the coming year will serve as a "base-rate budget." It is the second budget since Ripley high school students were tuitioned to Chautauqua Lake Central School, however the first budget reflected a transitional time. School officials are now able to more accurately project a controlled tax rate, he said.
"We still have a few things that are transitional," Rickenbrode said. "But we have a pretty good grip on how things will be." Some of these items include the need for a new wireless and telephone system, as well as new computers, which were already three years old when they were purchased five years ago.
Total appropriations for the coming year increased by 3.7 percent. This was offset by increases in revenue, including increases in state aid and property assessment values, Rickenbrode said.
Board President Robert Bentley noted that this is the second year in a row that Ripley residents have seen a decrease in taxes. He said the board expects this trend to continue. "We have a plan that reflects that," he said.
A public hearing for the budget will be held on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. At the same hearing, Ron Kessler of the architectural firm Sandberg Kessler, will give a presentation on the proposed $2 million capital project. The project will focus on maintenance issues, such as a new roof, replacing old boilers, re-pointing the masonry and brick of the school building, and repairs to sidewalks and parking areas.
Also, at that meeting, the board will review the proposed purchase of two new buses.
All three issues - the budget, the capital project and the buses - will be subject to voter approval on May 20.
Elections for two school board seats - those held by Bentley and Rickenbrode - will also be held May 20. Both men are running un-opposed.
In other business, the board learned that an energy program initiated last year to power down computers during non-school hours has saved the district $16,612 in energy costs.
At a special meeting Tuesday, April 22, the board also approved the BOCES budget for the coming year.
The board also officially thanked its social workers as a part of Social Worker Appreciation Month. School social worker Pam Grass, and interns Alissa Madden and Damaris Mason were recognized.