LOCKPORT – The property tax levy in the Lockport City School District may rise 2.75 percent under terms of a budget to be voted on at the April 10 Board of Education meeting.
Wednesday, the board, after reviewing a planned school aid increase from Albany, appeared to reach a consensus in favor of using less than half of that increase in the upcoming budget, while banking the rest for future years.
If approved at the next meeting, the plan would apply $440,000 of the $950,000 state aid increase announced Tuesday toward the 2013-14 budget.
The other $510,000 would be placed in reserve funds, although Trustee David M. Nemi, chairman of the Audit Committee, said it hasn’t been determined exactly which ones.
“It becomes a balancing act,” Nemi said. “That way, we’re kind of stabilizing the district for future levies, instead of having big swings – 2 percent one year, 8 percent the next.”
The move would set the tax levy increase at 2.75 percent, down from the 4.47 percent figure the board was anticipating before the news from Albany.
The district’s “real” tax cap is 5.04 percent, which is the state’s 2 percent limit when adjusted for allowable exceptions, said Deborah Coder, assistant superintendent for finance and management services.
“I think saving the money and going with the 2.75 percent [increase] is the right thing to do,” Board President John A. Linderman said.
“Coder said the actual amount that would have to be cut in case of a contingency budget would be $510,371. “If the budget goes down [at the polls], you cannot raise the levy by even one dollar,” she said.
In other matters, the board created a process to handle proposals to rename schools.
The policy sets up a special committee to consider such requests and make a recommendation to the Board of Education, which would have to muster a two-thirds vote to change a school’s name.
Several prominent citizens are requesting that North Park Junior High School be renamed in honor of Aaron A. Mossell, Lockport’s most successful African-American businessman of the 19th century.
From 1871 to 1876, Mossell lobbied the board, with eventual success, to close Lockport’s separate school for black children and admit them to the regular schools, 78 years before desegregation was ordered nationwide by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Superintendent Michelle T. Bradley said the committee will include Trustee Jon A. Williams and North Park Principal James Snyder, a teacher, a student and a community member.
The panel’s research and recommendation should be complete in about six months, Bradley said.