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$49.9 million budget OK'd; rise is 3.5%

The Hamburg School Board on Tuesday night approved a $49.9 million spending plan for 2007-08, an increase of 3.5 percent, or $1.7 million.

Business Manager Thomas Bagley said that health insurance costs, up $383,000, and building department allocations, up $365,000, were among the items driving the increase.

Board members, highly supportive of the proposed budget, did question the biggest spending hike -- special education -- up almost $700,000 from the current year.

Superintendent Peter Roswell said that about half the sum is costs associated with Board of Cooperative Educational Services programs in which the highest-needs students are sent. He said a student placed in these programs could could end up costing the district as much as $50,000.

Some of that money is returned to the school district in the form of state aid, but not until the following year, Roswell said.

Much of the remainder of the budget increase for special-education needs will go toward additional aides across the district, particularly in Boston Elementary School, where the district has a program for autistic children.

Absent from the major spending increases this year was employee salaries and benefits, unusual because it consumes 75 percent of the budget and is the single largest chunk of the yearly outlay.

Bagley said the retirement of 25 teachers, who took advantage of an incentive program, helped the bottom line.

Bagley said that based on discussions with assessors in Hamburg, Eden, Boston, and Orchard Park, the district can expect a 0.6 of a percent increase in assessments.

The overall tax rate is estimated at 5 percent of the assessed value of a home. The actual tax rates won't be available for several months, officials said.

Residents will vote on the budget from from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. May 15 in the Hamburg High School gym, 4111 Legion Drive.

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