CHATEAUGAY –– A virtual public hearing on the Chateaugay Central School District’s 2020-21 that includes a modest tax increase generated no comments on the $13.8 million spending plan Monday evening.

Only one person signed in to the presentation and hearing on the budget, which reduces district spending by about $334,000, or 2.37%. The district reduced its planned spending in the wake of a reduction in its anticipated state foundation aid –– money that can be spent essentially as district officials see fit –– and in recognition of the impact the COVID-19 virus and its economic fallout is having on North Country families, said Superintendent Loretta Fowler.

The district also benefitted from reduced spending on special education services provided by the Franklin-Esssex_Hamilton Board of Cooperative Educational Services and a reduction in the required payment on borrowing for the district’s recently completed $6.2 million capital project, Fowler noted.

The budget calls for an increase in the tax levy of roughly $38,000, Fowler said. The $2.9 million levy represents an increase of 1.32%, within the state imposed cap on growth in the property tax levy.

The increase follows last year’s decrease in the levy and brings the amount to be raised by taxes back to roughly where it was in 2014, Fowler noted.

Under the budget plan, the average taxpayer will see their tax rate –– the amount paid per $1,000 of assessed property value –– increase by a little more than 16 cents per $1,000. The average owner of a property assessed at $100,000 will see their tax bill increase from the current $1,340.39 to $1,356.79, Fowler said.

However, because of factors such as total assessed value and equalization rates in the five towns wholly or partially in the school district, the tax rate in each town will vary. Taxpayers in Bellmont, Burke, Clinton and Ellenburg will see their rates per $1,000 decrease somewhat, while taxpayers in the town and village of Chateaugay will see their rates increase by about 4.47%.

The difference is caused by a drop in Chateaugay’s equalization rate –– a formula that is intended to ensure the owners of properties with equal market values pay the same amount in taxes, even if their tax rates are different. Chateaugay’s equalization rate fell to about 81% this year, meaning the assessed value of a property is nearly 20% below its anticipated market value.

The other towns are at or near 100%, meaning the assessed value of a property is closely aligned with its projected market value.

Chateaugay town officials are currently discussing plans for a possible re-evaluation of all properties in the town to bring the equalization rate back to 100%.

District residents will have the final say on the spending plan during the annual budget vote, held this year on June 9 rather than its usual mid-May date because of the virus. All voting must be done by paper ballots, which must be received at the district office no later than 5 p.m. on June 9. Ballots received after that deadline –– even if they are postmarked before then –– will not be counted.

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