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INCREASE IN STATE AID WILL LOWER TAX LEVY

Interim School Superintendent James Knowles told a public hearing on the Iroquois Central School district budget Tuesday that the State Legislature's override of the governor's budget vetoes restores a good deal of money to the budget.

He said the district will receive $10,450,515 in state aid, $290,000 more than budgeted.

Knowles said he "took a $100,000 gamble" that the district would still get more in aid than projected when he drew up the 2003-04 spending plan.

Of the additional funding, 72 percent will be used to lower the tax levy. The new levy is down $213,000, to $15,009,022.

The new estimated tax rates for the six towns in the district will be lowered across the board by 1.5 percent from the rates projected last month but are still up from this year's.

Elma, the only town still using the old fractionalized assessment system and the largest town in the district, will have a tax rate of $230.21 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, down $3.21 from last month's estimate but up 2.97 percent from this year.

For Marilla, the rate will be $24.02, down 34 cents from projections but up 7.43 percent from this year; Wales, $25.39, down 36 cents but up 8.23 percent from this year; Aurora, $25.60, down 36 cents but up 7.34 percent from 2002-03; Lancaster, $16.49, down 60 cents but up 4.56 percent fro this year; and Bennington, $25.24, down 32 cents but up 8.05 percent from this year.

The other 28 percent of unanticipated aid will be used to reduce class sizes if necessary, to replace retirees if enrollment figures warrant it and to pay for intervention services to help students graduate.

The district will use $295,000 from a bus reserve fund for new buses and $110,186 from a capital reserve fund to upgrade the phone and security system.

The district has a working fund balance of $2.4 million.

Voting on the budget vote and the election of School Board members will be from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. June 3 in the Intermediate School gym on Girdle Road, Elma. Voters will elect two board members to five-year terms.

Incumbent Terrill Kunick is running unopposed for a third term.

Newcomer William Coles, a teacher with 30 years experience at the University at Buffalo, will challenge former board member David Lowrey, a teacher in the Lockport School District. Lowrey served on the board from 1986 to 1991 before he was defeated by the late Michael McCormick.

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