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Tonawanda City School District proposes 3.19 percent tax hike

Voters will be asked to approve a tax increase in the Tonawanda City School District election on May 16, although an increase in state aid will help keep the district's budget under the state tax cap.

The Tonawanda School Board plans Tuesday night to adopt a final proposed budget that, if approved by the public, will raise the tax levy by 3.19 percent, an increase of $51.40 per year on an average $92,000 home in the district.

A budget advisory team meeting on the budget will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday, followed by a Board of Education meeting at 6:30 in the Tonawanda High School Library Media Center, 600 Fletcher St.

The public vote on the budget will be from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. May 16 in the Tonawanda High School Wellness Gym, 150 Hinds St. Two board member seats will be decided as well as a referendum to put aside $8 million to establish a capital reserve fund.

The $33.7 million spending plan proposes to maintain programs and services and create additional support and teachers for special education and provide additional funding for technology support.

The proposed 2017-18 budget increases spending by 5.89 percent, or $1.8 million over the current $31.8 million budget. The major items that led to the increases were hikes in the cost of transportation, debt service payments, employee salaries and special education costs. The district was able to make reductions in employee benefits and buildings and grounds expenses.

The tax levy, the total amount the district plans to collect in taxes, would rise 3.19 percent if adopted by voters in May, from the current $11.4 million to $11.8 million in 2017-18. The district is using a 3.78 percent increase in state aid as well as $1 million from the district's fund balance, to remain below the state tax cap for the district.

The current tax rate is $17.50 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. Under the proposed budget, the rate would rise 3.19 percent to $18.06 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. According to tax rolls, the average home in the City of Tonawanda is assessed at $92,000, which means, if the budget is adopted, an average taxpayer would pay $1,661 per year for their 2017-18 school tax, an increase of $51.40 from their current tax bill of $1,610 per year.

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