OLEAN – The Olean City School Board adopted a proposed general fund budget Tuesday of $38,819,645, requiring a 1.9 percent increase in the local property tax levy for the 2014-15 school year.
The proposed budget is about $1.2 million more than this year’s outlay.
The increase means the operating budget’s tax rate will go up by 45 cents per $1,000 of assessment, to $23.46. A home in the Olean district assessed at $50,000 would see its school tax go up $18, to about $475 annually.
“We have to remember why it is that we are here,” district Superintendent Colleen Taggerty said. “We have built this budget around the guiding principles of the district, for the benefit of the students.”
For a number of years, since school financial aid levels have been frozen by the state, the Olean district has been working on what business administrator Kathy Elser called austerity levels at the classroom level.
“Our teachers have been operating on a zero-sum budget, only ordering what they know they will need,” she said. “We need to recover a bit from that and replace some items.”
In the coming year, Elser said, it is anticipated that 70 percent of the funds that will come in will go to instructional uses, with 17 percent going for capital construction and 13 percent going for administration. Capital construction includes buildings and structures that need attention.
Elser pointed out that 59 percent of the revenue for the budget, about $23 million, comes from state funding sources, with 36 percent coming from taxes and PILOTs in the district.
In addition to the $38.8 million general fund spending plan for the district, two seats on the Board of Education will be up for election.
Ira Katzenstein will seek his third five-year term on the board. Katzenstein said he looks forward to being a part of the future of the district.
The other candidate on the ballot is Frank L. Steffen Jr. He is a 30-year resident of the district and a former City of Olean alderman.
Voting on the budget and board members will take place from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. May 20 in the music suite of Olean Intermediate Middle School on Wayne Street.