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School district to used added aid from state to reduce tax levy hike

With an additional $272,932 in state aid, the Depew School Board is able to lower the increase in the tax levy to 1.73 percent and reduce the use of the fund balance and reserves by $132,932 for the 2012-13 budget.

Superintendent Jeffrey Rabey said Tuesday the additional state aid -- which is still a decrease of $82,066 over this year's share -- does not affect the total $37.4 million for the budget proposal that was adopted by the board last month.

But that document originally forecast a 2.62 increase in the tax levy, slightly below the legally allowable 2.67 percent under the state's new tax cap law. By applying $140,000 from the additional state aid in the budget passed by the State Legislature, the district now expects the tax levy to be $16.1 million, an increase of $400,333 over this year.

The estimated projected property tax rate is up 93 cents, to $33.99 per $1,000 of assessed valuation in Cheektowaga; and 58 cents, to $21.07 in Lancaster. That's a 2.82 percent increase.

Tax rates are not set until July after the towns set their total assessments. Rabey said Lancaster has already projected a 3 percent reduction in assessed valuation.

"I want to ensure that the tax rates stay below 3 percent for our taxpayers," Rabey said. "The focused and responsible use of this increased revenue will put the district in a more positive financial position for the immediate years to come and better ensure the district's long-term financial health."

A public hearing on the budget is set for May 1 in the Depew High School auditorium, with the budget and School Board candidate vote May 15.

In other business, the board accepted the nominating petitions of five people seeking two three-year seats on the board.

Running are incumbents David Sheff, human resources executive with Pcb Group, who is seeking a second term, and Patrick Law, a labor and employees relations specialist with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, appointed last October to fill a vacancy. Challengers are Steven Karnyski, a sales engineer with Mirion Technologies; Andrea O'Hern, a child care director; and Justin P. Young, a teacher at Batavia Middle School.

It was also learned that the Depew Teachers Organization has voted down a new three-year contract that included a 2 percent salary increase and called for a health care contribution in the last year of the contract. Teachers currently pay nothing toward their health benefits.