With more information, Lewiston-Porter School District officials can finally nail down precise tax rates for residents to pay during the 2013-14 school year.
At a special meeting Tuesday, the district school board adopted its tax warrant, which finalizes rates for assessed value taxation, figures only estimated when voters approved a budget in June.
"Between the vote and now, there's a period of time where people can make claims to lower their assessments on their homes," new Interim Assistant Superintendent for Administrative Services Susan Villiers said. "Of course, when assessments go down, the tax rates go up."
For 2013-14, the district will collect $23.2 million in taxes, a levy set by voters when they approved a budget in the middle of June. To accomplish this, residents in Lewiston will be responsible for paying $23.67 per $1,000 assessed value on property. Residents in Porter, meanwhile, will pay $20.36 per $1,000 assessed value.
Compared to figures from 2012-13 – $22.87 per $1,000 in Lewiston and $19.74 per $1,000 in Porter – taxes will increase $0.80 per $1,000 in Lewiston and $0.62 per $1,000 in Porter. Percentage-wise, it comes out to 3.5 percent and 3.1 percent increases, respectively.
The difference comes from the equalization rates, determined by New York state based on the value of assessments the towns submit each year. Equalization rates act as a multiplier on the believed true value of property.
Unfortunately for the district's planning, the equalization rates are unknown aren't set until the middle of summer, months after districts set a budget.
"We don't know the equalization rates (at the time of the budget vote)," Superintendent R. Christopher Roser said. "Those figures were estimates."
In addition to higher taxes, officials also revealed a planned increase in school lunch prices for each school heading into September. Roser said the move was brought on by multiple forces acting against the district's lunch program, which is funded separately from the tax-affected general fund.