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HALF OF TAX RATE HIKE BLAMED ON FORD REASSESSMENT

More than half of the proposed 2.5 percent tax increase for Frontier Central School District residents is due to the Ford Motor Co. reassessment, according to preliminary budget figures released Tuesday.

"If we didn't have any loss in property value and we increased taxes by 2.5 percent, we would have generated more than $500,000," Superintendent Gerald P. Glose said. "We lost part of our tax base. Now the other shoe is dropping."

The proposed tax levy for 1998-99 would increase $173,000, less than eight-tenths of 1 percent, said Richard A. Binner, assistant superintendent for finance. The projected tax rate of $17.70 per $1,000 of assessed valuation is 2.5 percent higher than this year's tax rate.

An $18 million decrease in the assessments account for the larger tax increase, officials said.

School District administrators point to the reduction in the assessment of Ford Motor Co.'s Buffalo Stamping Plant in Woodlawn and the payment in lieu of taxes program for Georgia Pacific. "I think we have worked very hard to bring in a responsible budget," Glose said.

"I don't think we're done yet," Board President Stanley J. Figiel said.

Figiel and Trustee Nancy Wood said they would like to see the tax increase more in line with inflation: less than 2 percent.

The superintendent said he will review the budget to try and get the tax increase down. He said this is the third year in a row that state aid has been virtually frozen. State aid for the district is projected to increase $27,898, a fraction of the $21 million total state aid package, he said.

"My one hope is the state aid picture will become more clear," Glose said. "We cannot fall prey to being too optimistic on revenue projections. . . . If they don't come home, we are going to be in big trouble."

Recent adjustments to the $49 million proposed budget include eliminating a home and careers aide for the middle school, the student enhancement program at Pinehurst and a librarian at Pinehurst. A kindergarten teacher position would be eliminated at Blasdell and added at Pinehurst, and the district is projecting a loss of nearly $50,000 due to cash flow because of late state aid payments. The district would reduce contingent money in special education tuition by $31,500 and contingency money in Board of Cooperative Education special education programming by $40,000.

Binner said the district also would increase capital improvements funds by $450,000, which would be offset by adding the same amount to the appropriated fund balance.

Also Tuesday, the board heard an update on the block scheduling proposal. The superintendent said he would make a recommendation to the board next month.

The board met at the middle school, and heard an update on the state Report Card for the school and the building's school-to-work program.

Middle school physical education teachers also presented information about Project Adventure, a program that offers non-competitive games and group problem-solving initiatives. It would cost $8,892 to acquire the necessary equipment.

The board also offered the first reading of a proposed change in the transportation policy which would eliminate the minimum half mile distance to bus students and instead bus all pupils in the district.

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