Niagara Gazette

Lewiston

April 23, 2014

Lew-Port board sets 2014-15 proposed budget at $41.2M

Niagara Gazette — Lewiston-Porter school board members made it official Tuesday, agreeing a $41.2 million budget proposal for 2014-15 is the best plan for all involved, including residents.

The seven-member body decided to pass it along to taxpayers to decide on May 20, when all suburban and small city districts hold their annual budget votes and school board elections.

“For right now, I think it’s pretty responsible,” board President Michael Gentile said. “As the budget plays out, I think we’ll be able to do more because the state will look at what we’re doing and see it.”

As adopted, the budget has a little something for everyone, from taxpayers to students, educators to administrators. There’s also some sacrifices each group will need to make. The budget represents a roughly 4 percent increase in spending from the current year’s plan of $39.6 million.

Superintendent Christopher Roser said some of the increase was funded through an increase of non-property-tax revenue like payments in lieu of taxes or the sale of electricity. State aid also increased by about $450,000, assisting in covering the higher expense.

Despite these assists, financing the spending wouldn’t be possible without an increase to the property tax levy, which measures the total dollar amount the district collects from taxpayers for the entire year. If voters approve the plan, the levy would increase to $24.2 million, a jump of 3.95 percent or $900,000 from this year.

What’s most notable about the increase in tax collection, though, is the percentage falls below the district’s defined levy cap, which was set at 4.42 percent. Pending approval, Roser said, this difference could provide residents with a tax rebate check from New York state. It could even come out to more returned to taxpayers than the increase calls for them to pay, he said.

Why is the budget proposal calling for such an increase – about $1.6 million – in spending from this year? Roser said almost all of the final figure comes from contractual salary jumps. Almost $1.5 million of the increase came from paychecks. In all, Roser said spending hikes actually came out to about $2.6 million, though cuts were made to that figure.

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