The Cheektowaga School Board voted Tuesday not to raise the property tax rate after district officials were informed that the town’s assessments were lower than expected.
Superintendent Dennis Kane told the Board of Education that assessments were down by $4.5 million. While the numbers have come in slightly lower than anticipated in the past, having minimal impacts on final school district budgets, Kane said that this year’s figures took the board by surprise.
“They usually go up,” he said.
School districts usually outline their annual spending plans and seek public approval in May, but final tax rolls aren’t settled by municipalities until July, leaving districts to make educated guesses on how much revenue they will receive based on assessments.
The district is about $115,000 short in anticipated revenue. The board could have made up the difference by voting to raise tax rates by 96 cents more than what voters approved in May while remaining within the allowed tax levy cap of 3.58 percent, but trustees didn’t want to pass on the burden.
Therefore, the board approved a tax rate of about $28.36 per thousand of assessed valuation, an increase of 2.96 percent over the 2012-13 budget. The taxes on a home valued at $100,000 will be about $1,758 for the 2013-14 academic year.
Board President Brian Gould expressed concern over the drop in town assessments and the impact it could have on future budgets.
“I’ve asked the superintendent to have somebody look into that,” he said.
Also during Tuesday’s meeting, the board approved nearly $50,000 in expenditures to prepare for the upcoming school year. One of the largest payments was about $9,000 to EAI Education for the purchase of TI-83 graphing calculators and overhead kits for use at the high school. District Director of Learning Maureen George said that 83 calculators were being purchased for use in classrooms and for exams.
Trustee Renee Wilson asked why so many were being purchased since the item is on the supply list, and George responded that the last time such a purchase was made was three to four years ago, and some calculators had been lost or broken since then.
According to the state Education Department, school districts cannot require parents to purchase graphing calculators for their children because the devices are not considered inexpensive or expendable supplies, such as pencils, pens and paper. If the calculators are necessary, the school must maintain a class set.
George said that several calculators also are provided for students to sign out if their families cannot afford to purchase them.
“They’ll be held accountable for returning the calculators at the end of the year,” George reassured trustees.