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WHEATFIELD – The Niagara USA Chamber Friday called on Niagara County voters to defeat any school budget that exceeds the state property tax cap when they go to the polls Tuesday.

That means the Chamber gave a thumbs-down to the budget at Lewiston-Porter Central School, where the tax cap this year was 4 percent, but the proposed budget includes a tax levy increase of 5.52 percent.

The $40 million Lew-Port budget reduces spending by 1.16 percent below this year’s level and cuts 23 positions. Superintendent R. Christopher Roser blamed the tax increase on a reduction of state aid.

“This isn’t a case of a frivolous increase and we recognize the difficulty school board members have in making these types of decisions,” said Kory Schuler, director of government affairs for the Chamber. “But businesses and residents simply cannot pay more in taxes.”

The state’s 2 percent tax cap allows several exceptions, such as employee pension costs, which push the allowable increase above 2 percent.