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Budget Talks: Williamsville Central School District

The Williamsville Central School Board Tuesday night approved a 2016-17 budget that adds $1.62 million in programming while staying under the tax cap.

Spending is up 2.7 percent and the tax rate is estimated to increase less than 1 percent.

State aid in the form of the restoration of the gap elimination adjustment let Williamsville administrators look at adding or restoring programs in the budget instead of talking about cuts.

State aid has been particularly challenging the last six or seven years, and the GEA had its accumulative effect on the district, Superintendent Scott Martzloff said when the budget was presented in March. The district had cut nearly $2 million out of its materials budget over the same time period.

Next year’s budget is up $4.6 million over this year, with much of the increase due to contractual increases in salaries and benefits.

Some of the additions include increasing the material and supply budget by $385,000, and equipment by $177,781. The district would increase the psychologist staff in elementary schools and add a speech pathologist. Class sizes will be lowered in first and second grades by one student each. The budget adds a district-wide alpine ski team and modified cross country teams, and a position to enhance the district’s communications efforts including web page and social media management.

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Proposed budget

Proposed total budget: $183.01 million, up 2.7 percent

Proposed tax levy: $117.22 million, up 1.13 percent

Tax levy increase allowed under tax cap: 1.22 percent

• Tax Rate: $19.28 per $1,000 or assessed valuation, up 0.74 percent.

Planning to go over tax cap? No.

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What is a tax levy?

The tax levy is the total amount in taxes collected from property owners.

What is the tax cap?

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo instituted the tax cap three years ago to help control local taxes. It’s billed as a 2 percent tax cap but is actually based on the rate of inflation. Each district’s cap is different because of a complicated formula and can be higher or lower than 2 percent. Districts need 60 percent of votes – called a super majority – to approve a budget that goes over the tax cap. They only need one vote over 50 percent for a budget below the tax cap to pass.

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Voters go to the polls Tuesday, May 17, to approve or vote down the proposed budget and vote on candidates for school board and any propositions.

Voters also will be asked to approve the creation of a capital reserve fund and to spend up to $695,000 to buy or lease up to six buses.

– Barbara O’Brien, News Staff Reporter