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No comments registered on Cheektowaga Central’s budget

The public is silent on Cheektowaga Central’s spending plans for next year.

During the annual budget hearing Tuesday night, nobody spoke for or against the district’s 2015-16 budget, which, if approved, would raise the tax rate as much as 2.78 percent.

The final $40.1 million spending plan is about $830,000 lower than this year’s. A boost in funding from Albany helped to bring down spending, as state aid increased about 7 percent to $12.6 million.

District Treasurer Kaitlyn Tokarczyk pointed out that the Gap Elimination Adjustment has gone down substantially. She reported that the state is taking back $684,931 in 2015-16, compared to almost $1.2 million this year. She expressed hope that next year, state lawmakers no longer will use the Gap Elimination Adjustment to balance the books.

Property taxes will make up about $23 million of the district’s budget, up from this year’s $22.81 million. This will increase the tax levy by 0.66 percent, which is within the district’s cap after the state’s formula is applied, Tokarczyk said.

If the budget is approved by voters, the new tax rate would increase 47 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation, or 2.78 percent. This means that taxpayers would pay about $17.31 per $1,000. The owner of a home valued at $100,000 would see a tax bill of about $1,731, an increase of about $47.

While the overall budget is lower, several forces are driving the tax rate increase. Teacher retirement contributions are expected to increase 17.2 percent to about $2 million, while health insurance is expected to increase about 6 percent to drive combined insurance and workers compensation costs to $4.7 million.

Tokarczyk stressed that the budget maintains all athletic and extracurricular activities, supports kindergarten through 12th-grade alternative programs at Pine Hill and continues professional development.

Superintendent Dennis Kane pointed out that while general fund expenditures have increased 40 percent over the past 10 years, the “true value tax increase” has been 6.52 percent – or an increase of less than 1 percent on average per year.

“Those numbers are absolutely mind-boggling,” he said. “I believe our programs have been strong and viable.”

The School Board election and budget vote will be held from noon to 9 p.m. May 19 in the band room at the high school, 3600 Union Road. A special meeting will follow the vote at 9:20 p.m. to announce results.

In addition to the budget, voters will select two candidates to serve five-year terms on the Board of Education. Candidates include incumbent Renee Wilson, Tamera Dixon, Myrlene Lee and Matthew Weigand.

Also on the ballot will be a resolution asking voters if they approve the selection of a qualified high school student to serve as an ex-officio, non-voting member of the Board of Education during the 2015-2016 and 2016-17 school years.