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Board approves $60 million budget

The Sweet Home School Board has set a proposed budget of $60.31 million for the 2007-08 school year.

The budget, which was unanimously approved by the board Tuesday, is a $3.32 million increase from the 2006-07 budget, representing an increase of 5.8 percent. However, School Superintendent Geoffrey Hicks said that increase may sound more ominous to district taxpayers than it truly is.

Hicks said the district's costs will increase as it continues to pay off the $23.9 million Middle School renovation project that was approved by voters in 2005. Hicks said increased state aid will help offset a large portion of those costs, resulting in a more modest tax hit for Sweet Home residents.

"Overall, we anticipate a tax levy increase of under 2 percent, and we think that is a very prudent tax levy increase," Hicks said.

Thomas Miller, the district's director of finance, said he expects an overall tax levy increase to be about 1.81 percent. That levy would increase the tax bill for an Amherst resident with a home assessed at $100,000 by between $15 and $25.

For a district home in the Town of Tonawanda assessed at $55,000 -- valued at 55 percent of full value due to equalization rates used by the district between the two towns -- residents could be looking at anything from an average $21 tax decrease to an average $18 tax increase, Miller said.

When residents vote on the district budget May 15, they also will vote on two separate resolutions: a proposition for the purchase of six school buses at a cost of $428,100 and the expenditure of $3.69 million in state aid toward a capital improvements project.

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