MILL HALL - After months of deliberation, the Keystone Central School Board voted to raise taxes in a split 5-4 vote that adopted a $63.7 million budget for 2011-12.
The Tuesday night vote raises real estate taxes by 6.13 percent to cope with significantly reduced state funding and eliminates roughly 22 positions, including 12 teaching jobs for a savings of $1.2 million.
It also cuts $1.6 million for building maintenance, tutoring programs, athletics and capital projects.
The vote was a near tie and followed by one board member resigning shortly after the budget passed.
The fiscal package for 2011-12 draws down the reserve fund by more than $800,000, reduces staff by attrition and creates an average tax increase of $62 an average household.
Board members Wayne Koch, Jeff Snyder, Jerry Swope and board President Jack Peters voted against the proposal.
Board members Charles Rosamilia, William Smith, Steve Murray, Tom Shafer and James Knauff voted for the plan.
Swope, two years into his first full term and a frequent foe of tax increases, submitted his resignation, effective immediately, after the vote.
He said he plans to move to a new residence in September or October, thus voiding his ability to serve his districts constituents. However, Swope added a parting comment, saying it has become clear to him that his "moral and ethical compass is set in a different direction than others on the board."
As for the members who opposed the budget, Snyder said, "This was a little too high for me this year ... You'll remember that my goal from the start was to approve a budget with no tax increase ... We have a governor who says no to new taxes, and if he can say that, I guess I can follow his lead."
"I sure didn't want this," Shafer said. "But I have some concerns for the situation next year, which might have us cutting deeply into our pockets and maybe cutting programs and (more) teachers ... I also remember a few years back when the Clinton County commissioners said no tax increase one year, and then said no tax increase the next year, and then blew everybody out of the water with a huge tax increase."
"This was one of the toughest years," Peters said.