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New Wilson school budget cuts tax levy increase 2%

WILSON – Wilson voters will head back to the polls June 18 to vote a second time on the Wilson School District’s proposed spending plan for 2013-14.

The district is presenting the exact same budget amount of $24.29 million, but is cutting the proposed tax levy limit in half, to 2 percent, according to Superintendent Michael Wendt.

The district is able to do this by “spending down a portion of our fund balance,” he said.

A public hearing on the new proposal will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the high school auditorium, prior to the board’s regular meeting.

Wendt noted that the actual tax rate for 2013-14 cannot be determined until summer, when towns release their total property assessment figures.

“But we are predicting an average tax rate increase of under 1 percent based on what we know now,” he said.

The tax rate for the 2012-13 school year is $26.37 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, meaning a taxpayer with a home assessed at $100,000 is currently paying $2,637 in school taxes, without tax breaks like STAR (the state’s School Tax Relief exemption) factored in.

“We’ve heard three things from taxpayers, one is that they are concerned about rising taxes, and the second is that we should spend down some of our fund balance,” he said. “The third was mentioned at our last board meeting by one of our board members and that is that one of the reasons we had a heavy turnout of ‘no’ votes is that a majority of our residents desire to see our two elementary schools consolidated.

“Turning down this budget has no immediate impact on school consolidation,” he added.

The new proposed tax levy is $11.1 million, which represents a 2 percent increase over the current levy, but is half of what was proposed in the May 21 vote.

Voters also will be returning to the polls that day to vote again on the Lewiston-Porter and Niagara Wheatfield budgets, which also were defeated last month.