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Maryvale school budget unscathed

Maryvale schools’ 2015-16 budget drew no reaction during a public hearing Monday night.

The adopted $40.96 million budget is 6.84 percent higher than this year’s $38.34 million spending plan.

If voters approve the budget, the tax levy would rise 2.5 percent, keeping the district under state’s cap. Assuming no growth in assessments, the tax rate will increase by 57 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, or by about 3.23 percent.

Assistant Superintendent Stephen J. Lunden said that in this instance, a home valued at $75,000 would see a tax bill increase of $42.75 next year, to about $1,357.50.

Should the budget fail and the district have to adopt a contingency budget, $482,811 would have to be trimmed. “We’d be looking at all our programs,” Lunden said.

In addition to the budget, voters will elect two Board of Education members from a field of four candidates. Incumbent Tammy McCarthy and Brian Pilarski are facing off for a five-year term, while Cindy Strong and Andrew Godfrey will run for a three-year seat that became available when Trustee Julianne Renczkowski resigned in March.

Also, a proposition will ask voters to authorize the district to enter into a five-year transportation contract with First Student, which came in as the lowest bidder.

The board plans to use an additional $800,000 in reserve funds to lessen the impact of transportation costs that are expected to increase more than $1 million because of the rebid. While a previous contract with First Student expired several years ago, the company agreed to an annual cost increase equal to the cost of inflation. When company officials recently told the district they no longer could afford the deal, a rebidding process was required.

The district will receive about $800,000 in transportation aid from the state in 2016-17; Lunden said that it will be used to replenish the reserve fund.

Another proposition will serve as a nonbinding referendum asking voters whether they support the district offering the Alternative Veterans Exemption to qualified veterans. The maximum allowable exemption limits would be $6,000 for wartime veterans, $4,000 for war zone veterans and $20,000 for disability veterans.

Because the referendum is nonbinding, the board does not have to follow the results of the vote. Officials are using the proposition as a straw poll to gauge community opinion of the exemption.

The election and budget vote will be held from noon to 9 p.m. May 19 in the gymnasium of the Robert A. Binner Educational Center (high school 9-10 building), 1050 Maryvale Drive, Cheektowaga.