Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Communities

May 14, 2014

Wilson budget hearing draws no critics

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal —

WILSON — Only one resident had a question for Wilson Central School business administrator John Montesanti during the district's public hearing on the proposed 2014-2015 budget Tuesday.

Bill Smith of Wilson-Cambria Road asked whether there will be any money left over in the current fiscal year to apply in the next one.

There could be about $500,000 left over, but it's impossible to tell until the books are closed in June, Montesanti said.

Montesanti described the proposed $24.5 million school budget, which drives a 1 percent increase in the local tax levy, as "very responsible." The district will continue to operate with a budget deficit, he acknowledged.

“We continue to budget more than we bring in,” he said, adding that fixed expenses have been growing at the rate of about 5 percent per year.

The district has also seen its state funding reduced, by about $8.2 million since 2009-2010.

“That's our problem in a nutshell,” Montesanti said. “We need to find a balanced approach to provide an excellent education for students while not overburdening taxpayers.”

If voters approve the proposed budget next week, the property tax levy — the amount of tax money collected from property owners — will increase by $111,250 year over year, to $11 million total.

The budget calls for elimination of six staff positions, for savings of $400,000. Three cuts are by attrition. Due to declining enrollment in the district, positions were going to be cut regardless of budgetary considerations, Montesanti said.

The closing of W.H. Stevenson Elementary after the current school year ends should save another $500,000, district officials projected previously.

About 70 percent of the budget is covers program costs including instructors salaries and transportation. Capital costs account for 17 percent and administrative costs account for 10 percent.

Wilson superintendent Michael Wendt called the 1 percent tax levy increase “acceptable.”

“I understand this is a rural community, but when it comes to education, we need to make it a priority,” he said. “This is a good budget.”

The budget vote and school board elections will be held from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. May 20 in the high school auditorium. 

Contact reporter Kaley Lynch at 439-9222 ext. 6245 or tweet to @Lynchie17

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