Tonawanda News — The City of Tonawanda school board passed a budget Tuesday for the 2013-2014 academic year that will increase the tax levy by 3.2 percent.
As a result, a resident who lives in a home worth $90,000 would pay an additional $49.80 in taxes next year if the plan is approved.
The board approved the measure by a five to two vote after a lengthy discussion. Residents will vote on the $29,858,602 budget May 21.
Board President Jackie Smilinich, Vice President Demelt Shaw, as well as board members Danielle Opalinski, Robert Shaw and Jennifer Mysliwy voted for the measure. Sharon Stuart and Diane Misner voted against it.
“I can’t hand out raises to teachers and then put the stress on the backs of our taxpayers,” Stewart said of the 2 percent raises most employees will receive. “We didn’t get the help that we needed from our staff, and that’s unfortunate ... and I have a very difficult time making cuts that affect our children.”
All of the tax options considered Tuesday included the same exact cuts, but under each option, different amounts of money would be entered into the fund balance. If the district does not move to increase the fund balance, it will likely be in the red by 2015.
The budget plans to cut three middle school teaching positions, but due to seniority, a high school english teacher will be cut and a middle school teacher will be transferred to the high school.
Prior to adopting the budget, the board approved a retirement incentive plan that will be offered until the end of May. If 10 staff members choose to take the plan, the district will save about $261,000.
The plan outlines incentives of $5,000 and higher for retiring staff members depending on their position.
Peter Buckley, of Wendel architects, also attended Tuesday’s meeting to provide the board with an update on the capital project. He said architects have completed a study of the choral and band rooms and determined renovations can be completed.