Niagara Gazette

Lewiston

March 12, 2013

Facing $800k deficit, Lew-Port may try to override tax cap

Niagara Gazette — Lewiston-Porter's 2013-14 tax levy threshold sits at 4 percent. After some rough calculations, Superintendent Christopher Roser said remaining within its parameters might not be feasible.

It's not a foregone conclusion the school district could attempt to override state law by seeking a higher percentage increase, but Roser and his staff need to find some way to overcome a projected $785,000 operating deficit heading into next year.

"The community has always supported its schools," Roser said. "And we've worked real hard at maintaining the programs within the district. But we've just hit the wall now. What other districts came up against two years ago, we fought hard to avoid. But we couldn't avoid it any longer."

Roser's projections put the district at raising slightly less than $39.7 million in revenues next year, including the capped increase to the tax levy at 4 percent. This figure represents a decrease from current year income of more than $800,000.

Coupled with a budget officials were hoping to keep near the $40.5 million current year spending plan, there needs to be either more tax revenue or spending needs to be slashed.

It'll be up to the board to determine in the next few weeks just how high they want to climb the tax levy ladder and how many jobs will be lost, the only place in the budget capable of handling cuts of this magnitude, Roser said.

But for planning purposes, Roser appears out of other options.

"I don't know how I'm going to be able to keep the tax levy at 4 percent, even with all the layoffs," he said. "We were hoping the picture would brighten a little bit, but it hasn't."

Simply increasing the tax levy 8 percent would put revenues close to this year's budgeted expenses, which has served as a consistent benchmark in the district for the past three years.

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