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Board to decide on next budget

The Niagara Wheatfield School Board will decide on Wednesday what budget to submit to voters next month.

The board has scheduled a special meeting for 7 p.m. to discuss how to trim the $61.7 million package that was rejected by voters on Tuesday. The goal is to reduce the proposed tax rate increase for 2012-13 to 5 percent or 7 percent -- from 9.9 percent.

Board members conceded after the first vote that a tax increase of nearly 10 percent was unacceptable to the majority of voters. A "super majority," or 60 percent of the voters, was required to approve the budget, which exceeded the state's tax cap. Fewer than 48 percent of voters supported the budget, according to district figures.

A simple majority of voters is required to approve a budget that carries a tax increase of 7 percent, the adjusted tax cap for Niagara Wheatfield. Another $792,000 in cuts would be needed to meet that goal, officials said.

Meeting a 5 percent tax rate increase would require $1.34 million in spending cuts. The district has an estimated $430,941 in "unassigned money," that can be applied to the budget, officials said.

After the vote, school administrators were asked to return with a list of items that could be eliminated. Candidates for the chopping block include bus transportation, sports, kindergarten and prekindergarten.

The proposed second budget will be the subject of a public hearing at 7 p.m. June 6. The vote is scheduled for June 19.