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BOARD URGED TO USE INCREASE IN STATE AID TO BUILD UP WORKERS' COMPENSATION FUND

A $54 million budget that reflects a possible property tax increase of 2.7 percent was put to the Niagara-Wheatfield School Board Wednesday.

School business executive Kerin Dumphrey recommended that the board adopt the package at the April 20 meeting. His plan would call for using an extra $300,000 in state aid toward building up the district's workers' compensation fund.

Under the proposed state budget, Niagara-Wheatfield is slated to receive about $22.6 million in aid. Instead of using the extra aid to offset part of the tax increase, Dumphrey advised the board to apply the money toward the compensation fund, which would then start to earn interest for the district.

If used for tax purposes, the applied aid would result in a tax hike of 1.9 percent, he noted. The board made no commitment but agreed to decide before adopting a budget.

The 2005-06 budget includes an overall spending increase of 4 percent. Most of the increased costs were attributed to contractual salary hikes, health insurance premiums that went up $850,000 and retirement fund contributions that rose $450,000, he noted.

The only new expenses at this time include funding for a sheriff'S deputy at the senior high school and another assistant principal. Dumphrey said the district should expect to lose the federal funding it has been getting for the deputy and would have to make up the $70,000 with local money.

The budget public hearing is scheduled for 7 p.m. May 4 with the public vote set for May 17.