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Change in wind farm tax deal means revenue loss for school

The Lowville Central School District will be receiving a payment that’s $472,000 less than it budgeted for this school year. That’s the price the school district is paying for a extension of its tax deal with Maple Ridge Farms until 2031. It’s getting less money each year, but a longer deal.

“We knew right from the onset that the revenue that we received would not remain at the high levels that it was initially, so the board has been planning for many years,” said Cheryl Steckly, district superintendent.

Steckly says one of the things the school board did to prepare was “to establish some reserves that would help us when the revenue begins to decline.”

Steckly says that reserve now has $12 million in it. Some of that money will need to be used each year to help make up for the gap.

The payment from Maple Ridge to the school will decrease until it levels out. In the upcoming school year, the school will be receiving $441,000 less. That means a hit of more than $900,000 over just two years.

“We are looking at all areas of the budget and reducing in every area we can that will include staffing. It’s the board’s goal to reduce through attrition whenever possible and we will begin to increase taxes,” said Steckly.

Some good news: the budget just passed in Albany means an increase in state aid.

“We had about another $95,000 of aid come through with the new budget,” said Sandra Rivers, business manager.

“We will work very hard to protect all programs for students and insure that the opportunities that are available to students will continue in the future,” said Steckly.

The board of education is expected to approve a 2019-20 budget at its meeting on April 8.