Kingston District Teachers donate $1M to ease tax increase

Kingston teachers have donated $1 million from their health-care fund to lessen the school district’s tax bump next year.

The Kingston school board passed its 2010-11 budget Wednesday night by a vote of 7-2. The $140.4 million budget would keep spending flat, but the tax rate would increase by 4.7 percent. The budget calls for the elimination of 59.5 employee positions, including 25.5 layoffs.

No school programs would be cut. The public vote is May 18.

State aid is the main culprit behind the tax increase. Kingston will suffer a $4.8 million cut in state aid next year as New York tries to rein in a growing budget deficit.

Kingston’s tax increase would have been higher if not for two concessions by the Kingston Teachers’ Federation. The district will not increase its contribution to the teachers’ health fund next year, saving roughly $2.3 million, Superintendent Gerard Gretziner said. The teachers also will donate $1 million from their roughly $21 million health fund to support the budget.

“I am very grateful to the KTF and the Kingston Trust Fund for stepping up and supporting the budget,” Gretzinger told the school board.

A representative for the teachers union could not be reached Thursday.

Board President David Fletcher and member Marc Tack were the only members to vote against the budget.

“I believe even at a 4.7 percent tax increase, it might be a little more than taxpayers can afford,” Fletcher said. “This year was a perfect opportunity to look at programs and see which ones work, which ones don’t, and make some priority decisions.”

Source: Times-Herald Record

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