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November 28, 2012

Wilson talks tax cap

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — WILSON — It was supposed to be a talk about two new options to deal with the financial challenge facing the Wilson Central School District. But the discussion once again brought up elementary school consolidation and the possible closing of W.H. Stevenson in Ransomville.

The Wilson Board of Education met Tuesday to talk about overriding the tax cap and reconfiguring the entire district. These options were the latest to be discussed by school officials, following a meeting last month.

Board members met in October to talk about four options for reducing costs. They included elementary school consolidation, as well as consolidating the middle and high schools, cutting extra-curriculars and eliminating non-mandated programs.

Along with Thomas Marks, Stevenson is one of two kindergarten-through-fifth-grade Wilson schools. And that’s where the conversation steered Tuesday.

Board President Timothy Kropp said the two new options were presented as a result from public input.

“We’ve received letters and calls from people suggesting we look further,” Kropp said.

Business Administrator John Montesanti presented an estimated financial outlook for the district. Before any cuts are made, the 2013-14 budget was listed at $24.5 million, about $1 million higher than the current school year’s.

If left alone, the 2013-14 budget would need an 11 percent tax levy increase. Homeowners would see an increase of up to a $300 per $100,000 of assessed land value.

If the tax cap override were to pass. Montesanti told the public that most attempts to do so failed in May, the first budget vote in New York under the tax cap law.

Under New York’s tax cap law, school districts can only raise taxes by a limited percentage that is figured out using a formula. There are certain pieces of information, such as the tax wealth ratio, the formula needs that schools won’t have from Albany until January.

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