Tonawanda News

February 13, 2014

NT school district begins budget talks

Staff Reports
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — The North Tonawanda School District publicly launched into the often tedious budgetary discussions on Wednesday evening as the months begin to wind down toward a May vote. 

Early projections presented by Assistant Superintendent Alan Getter showed a $69,413,875 total, equaling a $3.67 million increase over the current fiscal year budget of  $64.74 million, which ends July 1.  

But those projections, a 5.59 percent rise, are almost certain to change as the board continues several months of talks, awaits state aid announcements and possibly considers additional cuts to reduce the spending increase.

Getter said that salaries and benefits constitute 67 percent of the projections, including pension and health costs, while fees paid to BOCES make up another 11.18 percent or $8.2 million of the total. 

“Salaries and benefits are always the largest part of the budget,” Getter told the board, also noting that health insurance costs rose more than 8 percent this year. 

Federal and state aid would cover bout 47 percent of the total, he said, but the district will also take a hit of $800,000 in workers’ compensation, a figure Getter said was “out of control.” 

The district may have some good news as it continues to attempt to sell three buildings it owns, with at least one that has “had some activity” from interested buyers, according to Getter. The former Gilmore Elementary School that closed last year also brings in about $80,000 in rental fees, though much of that goes to cover the costs of the building’s utilities, he said.  

North Tonawanda residents paid $26,830,000 in property taxes for the 2013-2014 fiscal year, a 2.56 percent increase to the tax levy from the previous year. That equals out to an estimated tax rate of $21.48 for every $1,000 of assessed property value.