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Batavia School Board plans to trim proposed $44.5 million budget

BATAVIA – The School Board will have some trimming to do to get to the state-mandated tax cap for its 2016-17 budget, but Business Administrator Scott C. Rozanski said he is confident that the final levy will fall below the district’s limit of 1.48 percent.

Rozanski presented preliminary budget figures to the board Tuesday, reporting that the $44.5 million spending plan reflects a 3.4 percent increase from the 2015-16 budget and would result in a 2.75 percent rise in the tax levy to $19 million, from $18.5 million.

He said that $234,000 in expense reductions and/or revenue increases would have to be realized in order to hit the tax cap limit. At this point, the impact on a homeowner with a house assessed at $90,000 would be about $57 per year. About $840,000 of the current increase on the expenditure side is with salaries – nine new positions have been added – while fringe benefits account for $331,000 and the Board of Cooperative Educational Services adds $133,000 more, Rozanski said.

“I can comfortably say that we will be under the cap,” Rozanski said. “Much of these numbers are projections. We still have retirements to factor in, negotiations to settle and health insurance rates that will be adjusted slightly. And on the revenue side, the board has taken a conservative approach toward state aid.”

The budget process includes a review by the district’s volunteer “budget ambassadors” prior to an April 19 vote by the School Board. A public hearing is scheduled for May 10, and the public vote is set for May 17.

The board also was asked to consider participating in a plan that would offer tax exemptions to residents willing to renovate and move into abandoned or vacant houses in the city.

City Manager Jason R. Molino told the board that the plan, which became state law recently, would affect about 60 abandoned single-family homes. He said the owner would receive a tax break on the increase in the assessed value of the property after redevelopment over an exemption period of up to 25 years.

Molino said his hope is that the incentives would spur residents to invest in these homes and put these properties back on the tax rolls.