Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Local News

March 28, 2013

District looking at smaller tax levy hike

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Lockport City Schools will receive a little extra help from Albany and pass that to taxpayers and its reserves.

Under the budget plan adopted by the state Senate on Wednesday, the district is expected to receive about $39.67 million in total state aid for the 2013-14 school year. That would be about $966,000 or 2.5 percent more than Lockport received for the current school year, as well as $950,000 more than $38.6 million Gov. Andrew Cuomo suggested in his proposed budget in January.

Today, the state Assembly is expected to pass the same budget plan as the Senate did Wednesday.

School districts often set up their budgets based on the governor’s proposal, but also often lawmakers add some cash before finalizing a state budget.

The revised state aid figure won’t affect the expenses, which is expected to total $83.5 million for the 2013-14 school year. That’s a spending increase of about 4.2 percent over the current school year’s total.

But there is a question of how to figure in the additional $950,000. Board of Education members heard a recommendation from its audit committee Wednesday.

Board Vice President David Nemi, who chairs the committee, suggested splitting the amount between lowering the levy and refreshing some of the reserves. Lockport was planning on using $2.6 million from its reserves, worrying some members about the long-term health of the accounts.

Nemi said roughly $430,000 should go toward reducing the levy, while the rest would be used to replenish the reserves.

“That way we stabilize the district for future levies,” he said.

Doing so would present a tax levy increase of about 2.75 percent, or $950,371, from the current school year. That was lower than the proposed 4.47 percent increase from a month ago. Either way, the district would be below its tax levy cap of 5.04 percent.

”I think it’s the right thing to do,” said President John Linderman.

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