Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

May 20, 2013

Residents head to polls Tuesday

BY JOE OLENICK joe.olenick@lockportjournal.com
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Residents in all six eastern Niagara County school districts will be heading to the polls Tuesday to decide on school board members and budgets for the 2013-14 school year.

A couple of districts will have an extra decision to make as well. Lockport City School residents have a $22.1 million capital improvement project to consider, while Barker residents will determine whether or not to allow a library tax levy that would convert the Barker Free Library into a school district library.

Here’s a brief look at what’s on Tuesday’s ballot. For more information, stories on each ballot item can be found on the Union-Sun & Journal’s website, lockportjournal.com.

Barker

• Three people will be running for a pair of three-year terms on the school board. Incumbent William Smith will be joined on the ballot with Mary Jo Clemens-Harris and John McDonald. Clemens-Harris is making a second attempt to run for the board.

• Barker’s proposed budget is $19 million, which is a 2.4 percent or $460,000 decrease in spending. The tax levy amount needed would be $3.91 million, a 3.5 percent or $132,500 increase, but below the district’s legal limit of 90 percent.

Barker will lose $3 million in its PILOT agreement with the Upstate Power Producers Somerset plant (formerly AES.) The district will also share superintendent Roger Klatt with Royalton-Hartland, who is need of a superintendent with the upcoming departure of Kevin MacDonald. The districts are also sharing a wrestling team, special education programs and a business teacher, starting this fall.

Six positions will be cut. It’s expected the property tax rate per $1,000 of assessed value would rise 54 cents.

• Also on the ballot is the proposition to convert Barker Free Library into a school district library. The Barker Free Library Board of Trustees decided in the fall to pursue becoming a school district public library in order to stabilize its funding and provide elected representation to the taxpayers, officials said.

If residents vote for approval on Tuesday, Barker school district residents will be taxed to fund the library.

As a result, Barker residents are also voting for candidates for Library Board. If the library is successful, Roy Anderson, James Trinder, Pamela Atwater, Terrence Upton, Henry Charache, Marilyn Zaciewski and Seanna Corwin-Bradley will become the new trustees.

• Polls will open from noon to 8 p.m. in the Herbert F. Ludwig Fine Arts Hall, 1628 Quaker Road.

Lockport

• Lockport City Schools residents will elect three board members to three-year terms from a group of candidates consisting of incumbents Diane Phelps, John Williams and Edward Sandell, as well as Randall Parker, Todd McNall and former BOE president Marietta Schrader.

• Voters will decide on an $83 million budget. The budget is a 3.96 percent or $3.1 million increase in spending and calls for a 2 percent or $692,000 increase in the tax levy, below Lockport’s tax cap of 5.04 percent.

The budget would require roughly $35.2 million from local taxes, as well as $39.67 million in state aid, which is about $966,000 or 2.5 percent more than what Lockport received during the current school year.

Along with the recently adopted $83 million budget, district residents will vote on a capital improvement project. The project will include a number of repairs and upgrades needed throughout the district, most of which were tagged in a state-mandated building condition survey.

The work includes enhancing the kitchens at the elementary schools, replacing the sidewalks at John Pound Early Childhood Center, installing emergency lights at various school buildings and an emergency generator at Charles Upson. Also improving vehicular and pedestrian access to Roy B. Kelley Elementary, while renovating bathroom facilities at Charlotte Cross School. A number of technology upgrades will also be done, including a new wireless network and digital signs for video streaming with large screen LCD panels.

The survey, completed in 2010, pointed out a host of repairs and upgrades that were needed. Some of those items were addressed in a $18.9 million project that was approved in 2011.

The proposed project totals just over $22.1 million, covered by state building aid and about $3.1 million from the Lockport district’s capital reserve. So there is no additional tax impact on residents, said Deborah Coder, the district’s assistant superintendent for finance.

• Polls are open from noon to 9 p.m. First Ward residents will vote at Washington Hunt, 50 Rogers Ave., 2nd Ward residents will vote at the Board of Education building, 130 Beattie Ave., 3rd Ward residents at Anna Merritt Elementary, 389 Green St., 4th Ward residents at Charles Upson, 28 Harding Ave., 5th Ward residents at Roy B. Kelley 610 East High St., and all other school district residents will vote at the high school, 250 Lincoln Ave.

Newfane

• Three school board members will be chosen for three-year terms from a group of candidates including incumbents Michele Malone and Joe Flagler, as well as James Schmitt, Margaux Lingle and Donna Lakes.

• Residents will consider a $33.6 million budget, which is a $760,000 or 2.31 percent increase in spending and would require $12.7 million from local taxes, an increase of about $250,000 or 2 percent. Tax rates would probably drop in all of the towns within the school district, except for Newfane itself, officials said.

• Polls are open from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m., Newfane Elementary School, Transit Road, Newfane.

Royalton-Hartland

• Only two candidates will run for a pair of three-year terms. They are current board Vice President Daniel Bragg and newcomer Sara Fry.

• Residents will consider a budget or $22 million, a $37,000 cut in spending. It will raise the levy by 3 percent or $272,000 from the current school year, below the district’s cap of 6 percent. Revenue from taxes is expected to be around $9.3 million.

The district is slated to receive $11.1 million in state aid, a reduction of a little over $37,000 compared with the current school year.

• Polls are open from noon to 8 p.m. in Roy-Hart High School gym, 54 State St., Middleport.

Starpoint

• Residents will elect three board members to three-year terms and a fourth to a one-year term. The candidates are incumbents Michael Zimmerman, Dennis Toth and Jeffrey Duncan, as well as newcomers Susan Brooks, Kevin Duffy, Eugene Stanwich, Sherri Weber and Andrea Wick.

• Voters will also consider a $46.5 million spending plan. The budget, a 2.62 percent or $1.2 million increase in spending, would require roughly $25.8 million from taxes, a tax levy rise of 3.18 percent or $800,000. That is below the district’s tax levy cap of 4.86 percent.

That would cause the tax rate to rise about 1.99 percent, or 43 cents per $1,000 of assessed land value. The average rate would rise to about $22.23 per $1,000 for Starpoint residents.

• Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the Starpoint Middle School gymnasium, 4363 Mapleton Road, Pendleton.

Wilson

• Residents will elect two to three-year terms. The candidates include President Timothy Kropp and current member Mark Randall, as well as Amy Phillips.

• Voters will also consider a $24.3 million budget, which is a spending increase of about 3.49 percent. The tax levy would increase to $11.3 million, a 4 percent or $435,987 rise, which is below Wilson’s tax cap of 5 percent.

Wilson is slated to receive $11.8 million in state aid, $541,000 or 4.8 percent more than the current school year.

• Polls are open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the Zipp Gym at Wilson High School, 412 Lake St.

Contact reporter Joe Olenick at 439-9222, ext. 6241 or follow him on Twitter @joeolenick.