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The proposed 6.3 percent increase in taxes in the Cheektowaga Central School District will be lowered, taxpayers were told Thursday night.

"We know the tax burden is heavy," Superintendent Leslie B. Lewis said. "The budget we put up in June will be lower."

About 25 people, many of them senior citizens, attended a hearing in the high school Thursday night on the proposed $19.1 million budget.

Expenditures in the preliminary budget are up 4.9 percent over the current year. The projected tax rate would increase $1.08 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, or 6.3 percent, to $18.16 per $1,000.

Some residents noted they are on a fixed income, and any increase is a burden.

"I've paid (taxes) for three generations of children and I've had it up to here," said Jane Marquart. "Where do you think seniors are going to get this?"

Lewis said the proposed budget directs more resources toward instruction while it tries to hold the line on employee benefits, debt service and transportation costs. The district expects to receive about $150,000 less in state aid for the 1995-96 school year.

He also said many businesses and industries in the school district pay their fair share of taxes, but others have been granted industrial development tax breaks to locate in the town. He said the new Hampton Inn on Walden Avenue will pay about $15,000 in lieu of taxes to the district. If tax incentives had not been granted, the school taxes on the property would amount to about $60,000, he said.

"This is welfare for the rich," said Alfred Piniarski. "Why should I be paying for him?"

"Our plans and actions are dependent on what is in this budget," said Board President Jerome E. Poplawski.

He said the budget maintains the educational status quo.

"Maintaining the status quo actually means you're starting to fall behind," he warned. "We can't keep solving tomorrow's problems with yesterday's answers."

The superintendent said the board received the budget proposal last week and has not had time to make any changes in it. The board will hold several budget work sessions before conducting public hearing June 6.

Residents will vote on the budget and elect two trustees to five-year terms June 7.

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