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SMALL CROWD HEARS PRESENTATION ON BUDGET

Iroquois Central School Superintendent Michael Glover played to a practically empty house Monday night when he presented his $24,699,160 budget for 1998-99 at the district's annual public hearing in the intermediate school gymnasium.

Five residents watched a slide presentation of the spending plan, which is 2.59 percent or $622,777, higher than this year and carries a tax rate of $192.54 per $1000 assessed valuation -- a 3.48 percent increase for Elma, the largest town in the district and the only town on the old fractionalized system.

District officials said this is about a $56.77 per year increase on the average tax parcel or, according to Glover, the cost of a large candy bar per week. Tax rates for other towns in the district are Marilla, $19.42; Wales, $20.82; Aurora, $22.51; Lancaster, $16.85; and Bennington, $20.35.

New items in the budget include another team of teachers at the intermediate level to keep class sizes in line, plus one elementary teacher and a computer resource teacher. Glover noted there will be some staff reductions. He said his plan calls for one less Full Time Equivalent reading teacher, and three fewer FTE teacher aides in special education.

Money for a hoped-for settlement with the teachers union is in the budget. The contract negotiations are before a fact finder.

Also included are $300,000 for five vehicles for pupil transportation and $175,000 for renovations to the sewage treatment plant and replacement of a waste oil tank at the bus garage.

The district expects to start the year with a working balance of $1.6 million to carry it through until property taxes are collected in the fall. The district fund balance is $400,000.

State aid is estimated at $9.3 million.

Revenue from the Erie County sales tax is expected to remain $1,450,000.

Iroquois also receives $761,000 from miscellaneous sources and investments. Business Director Joseph Thoman said the tax exemption the board adopted for those 65 years and older will cost the district $145,000 but noted, "It's a good way for us to care for our older folks."

The amount to be raised by taxes is $11,554,160, an increase of 6.28 percent.

Elma Tax Collector Frank Kester, the only member of the audience to speak at the hearing, said he expects another million dollars in assessed valuation due to new building. Thoman said this could bring the projected tax rates down a bit more.

Voting on the budget is set for May 21 in the gym of the Intermediate Building from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

The board voted to raise the cost of student lunches for the 1998-99 school year by 10 cents at all levels.

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