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The Lockport School Board agreed Tuesday to apply a $1.45 million increase in state aid to keep the tax levy down in the tentative $65.3 million budget for 2005-06.

That would keep the property tax levy from rising by more than 1.93 percent over the current year, according to Board President W. Keith McNall.

But that was not enough for McNall and the other seven board members.

Worried about the bad economy and the area's unemployed, board members said the tax levy should not increase by more than 0.5 to 1.25 percent so residents and their children would not be too put upon next year.

As originally proposed, the tentative budget represented a $2.3 million increase in spending over the current $63 million spending package just to maintain the programs the district had this year. That would have raised the tax levy by about 4.15 percent.

Superintendent Bruce T. Fraser, however, found ways to reduce expenses and knocked the projected tax levy increase down to 3.63 percent in February.

Under the new state budget, Fraser said the district ended up getting a significant increase in state aid, enabling it to lower the tax levy below the 2 percent mark, and making it easier for the board to pare it down further to somewhere around 1 percent.

After reviewing and debating a myriad of possible budget cuts, McNall directed Fraser to review the board's suggestions and come back with a budget that would keep the increase in the tax levy between the 0.5 and 1.25 percent mark, but would leave the district with a good educational program for its students.

McNall asked Fraser to provide board members by Friday with a set of cuts he believed the district could best live with. Then he set a budget review session for 7 p.m. Monday in the district administrative offices, 130 Beattie Ave.

After the meeting, Fraser said the board might adopt a budget Monday night if board members are happy with his proposals. Otherwise he said the board would probably adopt a budget at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday during its regularly scheduled business meeting.

Going over a list of 41 potential budget reductions Fraser gave them last month, board members discussed everything from cutting a handful of vacant teaching positions to cutting $20,000 from the technology budget.


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