Iroquois Central School officials found themselves scrambling last week to get newsletters with revised tax information to residents before Wednesday's budget revote.
The rush to the printer began after a Town of Wales resident alerted officials that according to her calculations, her taxes were going up 9.6 percent rather than the 7.5 percent predicted by the district.
"We pulled her tax record and ran it through the computer and found out her taxes would be higher. We then had to find out why," said Business Administrator Richard Binner.
Red-faced school officials discovered that wrong assessment information had been programmed into their system. "I programmed the system to reflect a 2-percent growth for each property instead of a 2-percent average districtwide," Binner said. Binner, in his first year as a school business administrator, admits the error was his. "It was an honest mistake and in no way was intended to mislead the community," he said. The error, he said, was "a result of a lot of pressure" to get new numbers out to the public to include an adjustment on the tax levy to reflect additional revenues.
The School Board agreed June 11 to submit the same budget that voters defeated May 23 with the adjustment for $339,000 in new revenues. Schools Superintendent Lawrence Pereira added that officials learned that because equalization rates and assessed values vary for each of the six townships from year to year, generalizations can't be made about the tax increase. He said although the percentage was figured wrongly, the tax rates are accurate as predicted.
"The good news is that people are aware out there and called us," said Pereira. "By doing this, this lady allowed us to get the correction to the printer before the revote." This should allow residents time to make an informed decision, he said.
Binner pointed out that if the 1990-91 budget of $20,357,004 is approved by voters Wednesday, a Town of Elma taxpayer with a home assessed at $80,000 can expect to pay an additional $130, not the $100 projected earlier. He noted that districtwide, the 9.6 percent increase is valid only on property that has had no improvements or been reassessed.
The Town of Elma, which did not participate in the revaluation and uses the old fractionalized system, will have a tax rate of $186.95 per $1,000 of assessed value -- an increase of $16.40 per $1,000. The rate in Marilla would be $18.21, up $2.24; Wales, $16.39, up $1.43; Aurora, $18.68, up $1.60; and Lancaster, $19.60, up $2.59. Bennington, the only ax calculations
town in the district located in Wyoming County, will have a tax rate of $20.02, an increase of $2.40 per $1,000.
Binner noted that Bennington pays more in taxes because Wyoming County does not contribute any sales tax to the district. Erie County contributed $1,290,000 in sales tax revenue to Iroquois for the 1990-91 budget.
Binner said taxpayers who want to know their exact tax rate increase for 1990-91 school year should take their assessed value and divide it by 1,000. Then multiply this figure by the estimated tax rate for their township. He said they can get their assessed value from their local assessors office.
Residents will get a second chance to vote on the budget from noon to 9 p.m. Wednesday in the high school foyer on Girdle Road. A School Board meeting will be held in the high school cafeteria at 7:30 p.m.