Hamburg Central School Board members agreed Tuesday night they do not want to send voters a budget that goes above the tax cap.
But until hard figures are available on expenses and revenues, it’s too early to predict, some said.
Presenting a budget that raises taxes higher than the tax cap requires approval from 60 percent of voters. Only one of Hamburg’s last three budgets gained more than 60 percent approval, and none of them was above the tax cap.
Board member Holly Balaya echoed other board members when she said she does not believe a budget would pass by more than 60 percent of the voters. But she said, “We can’t afford to lose programming.”
Barbara Sporyz, director of administrative services, has yet to calculate Hamburg’s tax levy cap, but the math will start with a limit of 1.46 percent, based on figures provided by New York State, she said. Hamburg’s limit may be a little higher, based on its capital project spending, she said.
Interim Superintendent Richard E. Jetter said superintendents of schools in Erie 1 BOCES had a meeting Tuesday afternoon, as the governor was proposing his budget. He said the superintendents are smart leaders who want the best for their districts.
“You look around the room, everybody was scratching their heads. They’re trying to figure out how to maintain their programs and their great school districts without further devastation,” Jetter said.
He noted that Hamburg has had some devastation in past years, with staff cuts and other “bumps in the road.”
“That’s the bad news: You’re kind of waiting for Santa Claus to stop by, and when he doesn’t show up for Christmas, you’re disappointed,” he said. “The good news is that we’re going to get through this. I’m confident we will be OK in Hamburg, to not have devastation hit our district.”
He said the district is not seeing a decline in enrollment, and it must consider the closing next year of St. Bernadette Elementary School by the Buffalo Catholic Diocese. He said 78 students who are enrolled in St. Bernadette’s live in the Hamburg school district.
“They may very well come into Hamburg,” he said.
If a number of those students attend Hamburg schools, the district may have to increase staffing, he said.
Sporyz said next month’s budget meeting will include figures on how much it would cost to roll over existing programming and staffing levels.