Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

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March 14, 2013

More unknowns in budget

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — School districts across New York are waiting for some information from Albany on a number of budget-related issues.

State lawmakers are trying to pass a 2014 budget by March 21, which would be helpful to school districts. The state budget would include funding totals for education, knowledge that would be useful as schools are putting together their budgets for the next school year as well. Those budgets are to be adopted by April, while the public votes on them on May 21.

But there are some related issues that need to be resolved in Albany. First, there are two bills in the state legislature dealing with education funding.

The state Senate has a bill before it that would add $415 million to state aid for schools, while the state Assembly has a bill that would add $334 million. Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed budget called for a 3 percent increase in school aid, to about $20.8 billion.

There is also a bill before the Assembly calling for reducing the Gap Elimination Adjustment by $299 million. That was former Gov. David Paterson’s reduction in school aid, used to cover a $10 billion state deficit. There is also talk at the state level of adjusting the building aid formula, which could lead to a loss in revenue.

Lockport City School District talking about the budget Wednesday, as well as current events in Albany.

Trustee Joseph O’Shaughnessy said it was difficult trying to put together a spending plan and keep the public informed, all while waiting for Albany to decide on those issues. Board members themselves don’t have all of the information, he said.

”We just don’t know,” O’Shaughnessy said.

As it stands, the Lockport City School budget for 2013-14 would be $83.5 million, a $3.6 million or 4.58 percent increase in spending. The budget would raise the tax levy by $1.5 million or 4.47 percent, still below the district’s legal tax cap of 5.04 percent. Taxes would account for about $36 million in revenue.

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