Tonawanda News

April 11, 2014

NT school board adopts budget

By Michael Regan
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — The North Tonawanda Board of Education adopted a $68,423,968 budget for the 2014-2015 school year with a 1.87 percent tax increase, the maximum allowed under New York’s mandated tax cap. 

The board voted unanimously to approve the budget that will be taken to voters on May 20, without board president Kevin LoCicero, who was not in attendance. A public forum is scheduled for May 13. 

The final tally was more than a million dollars less than an initial proposal of $69.48 million, while early projections also showed a $2 million budget shortfall.  

But cuts to six full-time teaching positions and nine support staff narrowed much of that number down along with an increase in state aid of $1.118 million. Next year’s state aid package of $33.7 million equals the total given in the 2007-2008 school year despite the rising cost of health insurance benefits that have increased each of the last several years. Roughly 100 teaching positions have been cut since 2005. 

Nearly 45 percent of the budget is earmarked for payroll and another 23 percent toward health benefits, which rose 10 percent since last year. 

“We have gotten back to the same state aid we receive seven years ago,” said Alan Getter, assistant superintendent. “But at least this year the governor and the legislature came through.” 

The total tax levy increase of $502,000 is “right at the tax levy calculation” Getter said, referring to a state mandated tax cap, which would mean $21.86 since per $1,000 of assessed property value if voters approve the budget in May. 

The board also announced during Thursday’s meeting that an offer has been tendered by Opportunities Unlimited on the district’s administrative building for $412,000. The sale will appear on a ballot during the budget vote. 

Superintendent Greg Woytila said administrators would move to either Gilmore or Grant elementary school buildings. 

“I encourage everyone to find out as much as you can about the budget,” he said. “Go to the website or call us.”