LOCKPORT – The Niagara County Health Department’s proposed 2014 budget, unveiled by Deputy Director Victoria A. Pearson last week, showed a spending increase of more than $2 million, primarily caused by growth in preschool special education.

The number of children in the state-mandated program increased by 8 percent in the 2012-13 school year, Pearson said in a memorandum to the Board of Health. The program alone accounted for more than half of the increase, or $1.1 million. The state covers 59.5 percent of the cost of the handicapped children’s programs, Pearson said.

County Manager Jeffrey M. Glatz had set a $9.63 million target for the county Health Department’s net county cost, after state aid and other revenues are included. Pearson handed in a budget with a net cost $108,282 higher than the target, which she blamed on the mandated preschool program’s costs. The department is not proposing any changes in the number of employees in 2014.