Two fiscally stressed local school districts talk about this year’s budget challenges

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10)- The Greater Johnstown and Rensselaer City school districts are both proposing tax levies that would need a supermajority, or 60%, of voters to approve because they are over the state tax cap. Both say reaching voters to discuss their school budgets have been made difficult this year.

Johnstown has proposed a 5% tax levy increase while Rensselaer has proposed a 19.5% and they want taxpayers in their communities to know it’s a decision neither came to without thoughtful consideration.

Johnstown Interim Superintendent, Dr. Karen Geelan, says because the tax cap in her district is -2.02%, a supermajority would be needed if the district chose to increase taxes as little as one cent. She also says the district is ready to hand count mail-in ballots and have already received some.

Interview with Johnstown Interim Superintendent, Dr. Karen Geelan

Rensselaer City School District Superintendent, Joseph Kardash, says 19.5% may sound like a lot to taxpayers but taxes in surrounding districts are higher and the increase will still short the budget $400,000. He says the district’s financial woes stem from an 11% decrease that was passed in 2016.

Kardash says last year less than 300 Rensselaer residents voted on the school budget, he’s hoping mail-in ballots will increase participation this year.

Interview with Rensselaer City School Superintendent, Joseph Kardash

Kardash and Dr. Geelan are both urging tax payers to mail in their ballots by Saturday, June 6 to meet the school budget vote deadline on Tuesday, June 9.

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