CENTRAL VALLEY-Residents in Monroe and Woodbury will vote Tuesday, May 17, on a proposed $119.9 million budget for the next year that would increase the tax rate by approximately 5.7 percent. According to information provided by the school district, the tax rate increase is needed based on expectations that state aid will remain relatively unchanged, that enrollment will continue to grow and that the tax rolls will grow modestly. However, the actual tax rates can not be set until the district receives the equalization rate set by the state for each of the five towns that make up the district (all of Monroe, most of Woodbury, and parts of Chester, Tuxedo, and Blooming Grove) and the total assessment of all property within district boundaries, as determined by the local assessors. That information is expected this summer. The cost of employee benefits - including retirement and health insurance - is expected to rise by more than 14 percent next year. Other escalating costs include fuel to run the buses, utilities to heat and light the buildings and liability insurance premiums. School officials also say that there are many new pressures on the schools that have contributed to the need for increased spending, including higher state and federally mandated learning standards, as well as safety concerns and rising enrollment. The student population is expanding by two percent. Approximately 7,600 students are expected to be enrolled in M-W schools by fall 2005, an increase of about 140 students from the current school year. In addition to a proposition asking voters to approve the $119.9 million operating budget, voter will see: A transportation proposition that would total $6,856,670 in the 2005-06 school year. Current spending to transport children to public and private school totals $6,485,354. Three seats in the school board. Incumbents Paul Belnick, Jon Huberth and Susan A. Lofstedt have no opposition in their bid for reelection to three-year seats. The budget vote and school board election takes place between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. at the Central Valley Elementary School gymnasium on Route 32 in Central Valley.