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Niagara-Wheatfield budget grows even while the tax rate declines

SANBORN – More additions are being made to the Niagara-Wheatfield Central School District proposed budget even though the tax rate is going down.

School Superintendent Daniel Ljiljanich explained during the 2016-17 budget public hearing Wednesday that because state revenues have increased and district contributions have gone down, expenditures can be funded.

Niagara-Wheatfield must lower the tax rate by 0.3 percent or $109,265 to keep within the state tax cap limit. To increase the total levy would require a super majority or 60 percent of voter approval.

But because the state GAP elimination adjustment is gone and state building aid has increased, revenues for the $68,985,223 budget have gone up. Also, Ljiljanich noted that the district contributions to the teachers retirement fund and the employee retirement system have been decreased.

The extra money has meant that the district can reintroduce many items that were cut in leaner years to keep the tax rate tolerable. Those include: modified sports ($180,000); music teachers ($120,000); technician services ($112,000); special education ($269,250); busing transportation ($253,300); as well as other positions such as a full-time school resource officer and a new $100,000 contribution to a capital outlay project fund.

Ljiljanich said the difference in expenditures from this year is $1,019,522.

If voters turn down the budget on May 17 and the district goes to a contingency budget, any equipment purchases and community use of buildings and grounds would have to be cut, it was noted.

Another proposition on the ballot is to establish a general capital reserve fund to pay for future projects.

The goal is to place unappropriated year-end funds into this reserve for use as the district’s portion of future capital project costs.

Also on the ballot is a proposal to use up to $500,000 of the district’s transportation fund to buy five buses for 2016-2017. Officials said the bus purchases would have no impact on the tax levy.