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OFFICIALS DETAIL BUDGET AT HEARING

The Tonawanda City School District presented its proposed $26.26 million budget for the coming school year to a small audience Tuesday night at a public hearing.

The budget, which overall is 0.66 percent higher than this year's, calls for a 4.88 percent increase in the tax rate, which would mean an increase of $58.92 for owners of a home assessed at $60,000.

The adopted budget currently falls under the contingency cap of a 1.92 percent increase from this year's spending level. Residents can view the complete budget in all school buildings, libraries and City Hall before the vote.

Assistant Superintendent Peter Michaelsen said part of the restored state aid the district received for this year would be kept in reserve for next year since $600,000 of the district's reserve fund is being used to keep taxes down this year.

Michaelsen said the district planned conservatively for this year's aid because of the turmoil over the state budget, so the restored funds are a bonus.

He said property values have risen in the city for three years and are expected to do so again this year.

The district is also asking residents to vote on a proposition that would allow the district to increase its $26 million capital building project by $170,000.

The additional money would go toward buying more computers because some of the original money had to be spent on removing a mold outbreak in the high school last summer.

The proposition qualifies under state "rescue aid," so the state would cover the additional $170,000.

If the proposition is approved, the tax rate would not be affected.

Three people are running for two three-year terms on the School Board.

Daniel Calabrese is finishing his first term as a board member and second year as School Board president. A City of Tonawanda resident for 16 years, Calabrese and his wife, Karen, have two children enrolled in the district. He is a senior engineering technician at Erdman Anthony Engineers.

Richard Catlin, who is also seeking re-election, is a retired principal and teacher who spent 38 years in the district.

He is a member of several educational organizations and has been honored with community and teaching awards.

Anna Jost, a private attorney with experience in education, disability, child welfare, family and juvenile laws is seeking her first term on the board. She and her husband have two children, including a seventh-grader enrolled in the district.

The budget vote and School Board election will be held from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday.

Voting booths for 1st Ward residents will be in Mullen Elementary, 130 Syracuse Ave.; 2nd Ward, Highland Elementary, 105 Highland Ave.; 3rd Ward, City Hall, 200 Niagara St.; and 4th Ward, Riverview Elementary, 55 Taylor Drive.

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