There effectively will be no hike in taxes in the 2014-15 budgets approved Tuesday evening by seven boards of education in Erie County, thanks to the state plan to reimburse property owners for school tax increases this year.
To guarantee the reimbursement, all of the districts succeeded in keeping their levies below the state-imposed tax cap. Although this required program trimming and staff reductions, the belt-tightening was alleviated by an increase in financial aid from the state.
Seven layoffs were approved before the School Board adopted a nearly $41 million budget for 2014-15.
Five teachers and two custodians will be let go July 1 in the name of efficiency, Superintendent Dennis Kane said. Three full-time teaching positions will be added, plus an occupational therapy assistant at .66 full-time equivalent.
The board approved a tax levy increase of 2.2 percent, which hit the district’s cap, District Treasurer Kaitlyn Tokarczyk said.
The spending plan is 2.59 percent higher than this year’s $39.9 million budget. Tokarczyk said that the usual culprits – salaries, benefits and retirement – were to blame. She added that since the Town of Cheektowaga is revaluing properties to bring them up to 100 percent assessment, it’s difficult to say what the tax rate would be.
The budget hearing will be held during the next regular board meeting at 7 p.m. May 6 in Cheektowaga Central High School, 3600 Union Road. The annual School Board election and budget vote will be held from noon to 9 p.m. May 20 in the high school.
Several employees are taking an early retirement incentive that officials adopted in February to help balance the 2014-15 budget.
The Board of Education approved the retirement of six employees, four from the Depew Transportation Employees Association and two from the Civil Service Employees Association, for a savings of about $100,000.
This and other measures in the adopted $40.8 million budget result in a 1 percent tax levy increase, the district’s cap. A home valued at $100,000 would see a $21.30 increase.
The spending plan is 5.94 percent higher than this year’s budget of about $38.5 million.
Officials balanced the budget with an additional 8.4 full-time equivalent layoffs that will be determined by need and a state aid increase of about $2.3 million.
The budget hearing will be held during the next board regular meeting at 6:30 p.m. May 13 in the high school, 5201 Transit Road.
The annual School Board election and budget vote will take place from noon to 9 p.m. May 20 in Cayuga Heights Elementary School, 1780 Como Park Blvd.
School Board members have heard pleas to restore staff and programs for weeks, and Tuesday night they said not every cut will remain.
The board adopted the $74.23 million budget on a 4-3 vote, with members Thomas Best Jr., Jack Chiappone and Lynn Szalkowski against it.
“We are voting purely on an expenditure budget,” President Janet MacGregor Plarr said. “We are going back to the building principals and the department heads. We are still looking to reallocate funds to be able to restore positions.”
The budget cuts as many as 25 positions, but layoffs of teachers and staff would number just under 10 because of reorganizations and retirements.
“There will still be layoffs,” Plarr said, but she added, “We are looking to reinstate as many as we can.”
Board members said they will wait for the new superintendent, Bret Apthorpe, to take office July 1 and make some decisions on how to spend the money.
Spending is up 1.44 percent over this year, and the tax levy would not exceed the cap of $36.22 million, an increase of 3.58 percent.
The tax rate for Hamburg residents would be $25.97 per $1,000 of assessed value, and Eden residents would pay $22.82 per $1,000. Both would go up 3.15 percent.
Voters will decide in May on a nearly $54.3 million budget adopted at the School Board meeting.
“Our total general support budget saw an increase of about $1 million,” said Daniel W. Pacos, assistant superintendent of business and finance.
This would be an increase of just under $1 million over this year’s budget, with a 1.43 percent increase in the tax levy. Most of the figures stayed close to the current spending plan, but there were some variations in the adopted budget.
Under finance, salaries decreased about $26,000, but BOCES services costs jumped from $98,079 to $147,202. Under central services, there was a slight increase from about $4.1 million to $4.2 million.
Overall, the total general support part of the budget rose from just under $6 million to just under $6.2 million.
On the revenue side, the district is seeing an increase in state resources from $26.4 million to $27.4 million.
When they head to the polls for the annual May 20 budget vote, residents face a $97.43 million budget proposal for 2014-15 that ups spending by 2.87 percent, but keeps programming and class sizes intact.
The School Board unanimously adopted the spending plan, which carries an estimated 2.68 percent tax rate increase.
“We gave our marching orders to come in with a budget that was a minimal tax increase for our community,” Board President Marie MacKay said. “We also said, ‘No program cuts.’ ”
Still, MacKay said, the new budget plan is tight. Initially, the district had faced a $2.4 million budget deficit but was able to reduce an unspecified number of teaching positions due to declining enrollment and retirements. The district also received a boost in state aid.
Projected property tax rate increases are 44 cents to $16.85 per $1,000 of assessed valuation for Lancaster residents; while Cheektowaga residents in the district would see their rate increase by 71 cents to $27.18; and Elma residents would see a $9 increase to $343.87.
City of Tonawanda
The School Board unanimously approved a proposed $29.8 million budget for 2014-15 that would raise the tax levy by 2.55 percent.
The increase still falls below the district’s cap of 4.5 percent, while the budget calls for a spending hike of 2.87 percent. If approved, the new budget would raise the average homeowner’s tax bill by about $30.
Thanks to a larger-than-expected increase in state aid, spending recently added to the proposed budget won’t have any effect on property tax rates, officials said.
The School Board adopted a 2014-15 budget just shy of $108.2 million. Since the plan was unveiled in February, $643,000 in spending was added.
“It’s all instructional, and any other needs we may have from a staffing standpoint,” said former treasurer Brian L. Schulz, who’s continued to work on the budget after retiring in February.
The budget reflects a year-to-year spending increase of 1.88 percent, and a 1.97 percent increase in the property tax rate, Schulz said.