Four school districts in Amherst will finally get their hands on the more than $800,000 in school property tax money that the town government had been inadvertently hoarding since the mid-1990s.
And the Town of Amherst will no longer have the burden of collecting and redistributing school tax dollars.
A total of $863,449.15 is expected to be disbursed within the next month or so as a result of State Supreme Court Justice John A. Michalek's approval Wednesday of a plan that would end a nearly two decade-long miscalculation of town property taxes.
Prodded by the judge for the past two months, town, county and school district administrators worked out the distribution of money the town had been storing in one of its accounts since 1995.
The distribution of funds later this month is subject to the required and anticipated approval of the Amherst Town Board and the school boards of the Amherst, Williamsville, Sweet Home and Clarence school districts.
According to court stenographer Sandra A. Lelito's tally, the Williamsville school district will get $522,474.58; the Amherst Central district will get $201,445.19; Sweet Home Central will get $133,808.08 and Clarence will get $5,721.30.
Both sides agreed that the town would waive the six-year statute of limitations on the money the districts are entitled to, and the districts would waive any interest payments they might be owed on the money, said Amherst Town Attorney E. Thomas Jones.
Bernard B. Freedman, attorney for the school districts, told the judge the Williamsville school district will use the new funding to reduce school tax levies over the next five years while Sweet Home and Amherst Central will use their funds to revise school taxes over the next three years.
Freedman said the Clarence district is likely to use its sum to reduce next year's school taxes for that district.
The school money held up by the Town of Amherst relates to certain, partial-year property tax exemptions.
Jones said that starting next year, all school taxes will be appropriately listed on the September school tax bill, not the January Erie County-Town of Amherst tax bill, eliminating the opportunity for funding mix-ups in the future.
The county also is expected to ultimately make the same tax bill revisions for every other municipality in the county.
Michalek said he will sign the court order clearing the release of the funds by the Town of Amherst as soon as he is notified that the four school boards and the Amherst Town Board have approved the transfers.
The attorneys and school officials said the Williamsville School Board is slated to consider the fund transfer at its Tuesday meeting, Sweet Home and Amherst Central at their Oct. 21 meetings and Clarence at its Oct. 27 meeting. The Amherst Town Board is slated to vote on the fund transfers Oct. 20.
Staff reporter Sandra Tan contributed to this report.