Niagara Gazette

Local News

February 25, 2013

Casino funds, pensions cause massive planning uncertainty for Falls schools


Niagara Gazette — In the coming weeks, Hyland said, his budget team will create three scenarios of varying degrees of pain, each designed to take into account one or both of the possible changes coming to fruition.

A fourth, worst-case, would also be developed in case neither happen and the district must cut $5.3 million to balance its budget.

Though banking on casino revenues and pension reform are nice, it begs the question why the district doesn’t learn from previous years and just plan for the worst. After not seeing casino money for two years, the district might be hurting itself in the long run continually recognizing the potential for it to be there in the future.

But Hyland said, for the sake of teachers and programs in the schools, the district needs to holdout hope the money will be there every year.

“If we assume we don’t get (the casino money), we’d have to cut an additional $750,000,” he said.

Hyland and Budget Manager Rebecca Holody also revealed what the district’s upcoming tax levy cap would be.

Niagara Falls has not raised its tax levy, or total dollars collected in taxes, in 19 years. Next year, the district could choose to raise its levy by nearly 5.5 percent without needing a supermajority of 60 percent of district voters approving the spending plan in May. The figure includes this year’s 4 percent tax cap, along with a 1.5 percent carryover from not raising it last year.

Big red number $5.3M The Falls School District's projected budget gap for the 2013/14 school year

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