SANBORN – No surprises were unveiled in one of the last Niagara-Wheatfield Central School District budget presentations before the public vote on May 20.
In her annual public information meeting, School Superintendent Lynn Fusco said there have been no changes in the budget structure since the School Board approved the proposed fiscal package on April 23.
The $64,616,391 budget would impose a property tax increase of 4.8 percent and would implement $1,449,028 in program and operations cuts, Fusco said.
Less state aid and increased costs have caused the budget shortfall and required the district to call for $31,384,000 in taxes.
According to the presentation, the 4.8 percent tax hike is the largest increase since 2006. From 2008-2010, no tax increase was levied and in 2007, taxes went up less than one percent.
Board members and district officials have been highly critical of the past practice of not increasing taxes at all and using reserve funds to cover the budget gap. Some have stated that taxes should have gone up as much as the consumer price index to stabilize the budget.
If the public votes down the budget, the board has the choice of resubmitting the same package for a second vote, putting up an adjusted budget, or going straight to a contingency budget, Fusco explained.
A contingency budget would have no tax increase and would include another $1.5 million in cuts, she noted.
In a related matter, School Board candidate Daniel Maerten announced that he was withdrawing his name from the ballot. Maerten said business obligations and personal matters would prevent him from devoting time to the board. District clerk Robin Vertino told Maerten he had to submit the request in writing.
Six other candidates, including two incumbents, remain on the ballot for three seats.